Anger, disgust, humiliation: The daily Delhi commute
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Anger, disgust, humiliation: The daily Delhi commute

Asia Sentinel’s Neeta Lal describes her experiences of molestation and ‘eve-teasing’ on Delhi’s public transport

I have lived in New Delhi most of my life. To my disgust, embarrassment and anger, as a necessary condition of living in the city I have had my breasts squeezed in a crowded public bus, felt a guy’s hardness against my leg in a Metro and have had my buttocks pinched several times.

I am not alone. Every single woman who has had to travel by public transport in the city has faced molestation and, in extreme cases, rape with chilling regularity. “Eve-teasing” is a deceptive-sounding euphemism in India for public sexual harassment or molestation of women. The use of the word “Eve,” for the first woman, implies that the woman is in some way responsible for her own torture.

What did I do about such embarrassments? Glad you asked. I’ve had the honor of slapping two of my assailants and I chased one off the bus, aided by other irate passengers. But truth be told, my objections have often been dismissed by friends and seniors and even the police as frivolous.

“These are the unavoidable hazards of being a working woman and there’s hardly any point complaining,” an aunt once advised me. Actionable remedies? What’s that?

Almost all my colleagues and neighbors have experienced such debasing treatment, their privacy invaded by strange, sick men as they tried to navigate their chaotic lives, juggling jobs, kids and homes.

New Delhi has the dubious distinction of being the country’s rape capital as well as being its capital city. The reputation is well-deserved. Last year, the city reported 572 cases of rape, up by about 10 per cent from 2011, and substantially more than other cities of comparable size like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

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