In Focus 27th November, 2015
Open Letter to my Future Son.

Dear son,

Today, I was sexually harassed. Correction: Every day I am sexually harassed.

I’ve found men of all ages or shapes and sizes, who feel that it is their right to stare, whistle at, or even shout lewd things at women. They have followed me, “accidentally” touched me inappropriately, asked me to get in their car without any “nakhras”.

I’m tired of feeling angry, frustrated, humiliated, uncomfortable and exhausted for having to defend myself and my basic rights every day. Since I have not met you yet, what better way to communicate with you than a letter.

I, like countless others, have experienced sexual harassment numerous times. One of the most disturbing instances for me, was when a young boy of 13 or 15 followed me as I walked back home. He walked only a few meters behind me, while whistling at me. As I was a young girl myself, I felt unsafe and uncomfortable. Even when I tried communicating this to him, he was undeterred and continued whistling with a smirk. What upset me even more was that no one around me spoke up despite the clear signs of discomfort I was displaying.After telling this story to my friends and family, a big part of me felt guilty after their reaction. It ranged from, “You shouldn’t be out in the evening (It was 6PM on a hot summer’s day), and “He probably just found you attractive and wanted attention”. Despite every rationalisation of his behaviour, I know that this is not how I should be treated.

My dearest one, do not call harassment “eve teasing”, call it what it is: Sexual Harassment. You may want to express your love, but this would not mean following a girl home even when she says no, or looks particularly uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to stand up to someone who does this to you, and don’t be afraid to stand up for someone else facing this.

Be loving, respectful and empathetic to those around you. Have an open mind, and be willing to explore the world and yourself. You will find people who are different from you, with different opinions, experiences and stories. Be mindful of this, and never treat someone badly just because of their difference. I have full faith in you, and I want you to be a part of a generation that values and respects human beings.

All my love,
Mom

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