I was waiting at the bus stop at 6pm on a Saturday on my way home from work. I watched a man in his 20’s grab the belt loop of a girl. I thought they knew each other. Her face told me otherwise. The young man caught my eye and that was the end of my post-work reverie. In my misguided attempt to ignore him I did not catch what he said until a glob of spit landed on my chest. My bus came, but as luck would have it, by the time I got to the doors it drove away.
The angry and apparently mentally unwell man grabbed me by my backpack. He told me he was going to “rape me in the ass” and other threats that I don’t fancy repeating. I asked him to get off me. We were in a crowd of people. I asked him to get off again, louder. He let go of my bag and I walked back to my bus stop. He followed. The threats continued. Nobody said or did anything. He said he was a violent man and that he was going to rip open my shirt so everyone at the bus stop could see me. He moved toward me, asking why I was ignoring him, he was on the verge of hitting me, and I pretty much fled the scene. I didn’t quite run, but it was a quick decision. Still, nobody did or said anything. Luckily he didn’t chase me down and I made it home un-raped but rather shaken.
This happened to me around the same time the NHS started using the “1 in 3 rapes happen when the victim is drunk” posters. So, had I been drunk, and it had been late at night and there had been less people around then yes the results probably would have been worse. So that means what? That I should no longer drink? I don’t think so. People should not be able to get away with behaving that way.
At Notting Hill Carnival this year a girl was in the crowd minding her own business, enjoying herself. A man grabbed her ass. She told him not to. He did it again. She turned around and pushed him away from her, out of her space. He punched her in the face and she had to go to the hospital because the damage was that severe. She said that the most sickening thing about it was she had to think about whether she should have stood up for herself. She decided she’d rather get punched again than not stand up for herself—she’s a brave woman and I admire her attitude. But I have to ask, if more people had had her back in the crowd, would he have done it?
These days you can buy nail varnish that changes color if you put it in a drink spiked with GHB. You can also buy anti-rape underwear. Preventative measures are being published all over the Internet and invented everywhere in the world. But many people, including myself, are asking why? Why isn’t it more ingrained in world communities that it simply is not okay to behave sexually aggressively toward somebody? Why do women still have to be frightened on public transport or in big crowds? Why do passers-by let it happen?
As forward thinking and scientifically interesting as many modern preventative methods of violence to women are, the root cause is the issue we should be focussing on. The worry is that the root cause is too deep for us to dig out. We should not have to wander the streets self-imprisoned in chastity belts.
It’s fantastic seeing people all over the world speaking out about this subject and I look forward to watching the dialogue continue. But in a lot of cases, rather than a go-go gadget belt, the view that men choosing not to be rapists, should prevent rape. So stay safe and stand up for one another.
Image sourced from: guardianlv.com