Kickboxing in India

What every girl needs to know

My daughter was molested last week. Cathleen, sixteen, was returning home from a school sport event and just outside the playing field she boarded a vikram, a small jitney that carries six or more and is one of Dehradun’s popular forms of public transport. The vikram was empty when she boarded, but a moment later a man got on and sat next to her. Very coolly and deliberately, and staring right at her the whole time, he reached over, laughing, and grabbed her breast. Cathleen shouted to the driver to stop, got down, and hailed a taxi to take her home, where she collapsed sobbing in my arms.

She couldn’t quite say what it was about this particular incident that upset her so. It’s not as if she isn’t used to it: it happens, in one form or another, all the time. She has stopped walking from school to the bus stand because of the rude comments, gestures, and occasional groping that all young women here in India are assaulted by in the crowded areas of town. She even prefers not to go out for walks alone in our own neighborhood, though it is known as the safest area in the city and, as she has grown up here, there isn’t a family who doesn’t know her by name.

I guess that day she simply had had enough. At her age, it’s difficult to be constantly on guard, to be vigilant and suspicious, to watch every man warily and to be prepared for inspection and appraisal by any one of them...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Jo McGowan, a Commonweal columnist, writes from Deradoon, India.