This Happened To Me In Law School But What Shocks Me Is What These Men Are Doing Today
More than half a decade has passed since I graduated from law school. Bright eyed and full of hope, I was excited to obtain an admission in one of India’s best schools. I was looking forward to leaving home in Bangalore, where I had been bullied prior to law school in anticipation of an excellent platform to engage, imbibe and grow.
Upon entering college, I realized that a majority of the batch (and for that matter even the crowd) were from regions wherein women were not that highly regarded. A rude culture conflict ensued and I tried my best to fit into the crowd. My attempt was met with condemnation and ridicule, with the only advantage being that my Hindi became excellent.
Interacting with women was considered ‘dude’ mentality, and was frowned upon. The stage was set for medieval era. Bullying took the shape of name calling, physical assault and sidelining.Share this quote
My automatic defense mechanism was resorting to intellectual pursuits and extracurricular activities, which I excelled in (relatively speaking). Time passed by, and my longing for normalcy kept getting louder and harsher, with the voices in my head telling me that something has to click or has to give. There had to be some hope amidst this grim reality.
In 2008, entrance to law school changed with a unified national common entrance exam and as a result, a more pan-India presence emerged. The incoming batch was more open and attuned to normalcy (in a relative sense).
With this batch, she (let’s call her person ‘X’) arrived. X came from a cosmopolitan setup and also looked forward to seeing what law school had to offer. X came to note of my reputation from an intellectual standpoint, and with each subsequent dialogue we grew closer to each other. Soon, I was looking forward to both life and love, and was renewed with hope of normalcy. However, there was a caveat- unsolved problems lie low when left unaddressed but don’t disappear.
X mentioned to me that there were whispers doing the rounds that she was seen with me and that people were talking. She also mentioned that few of my batch mates were miffed that the guy whom they bullied could seek out a romantic liaison. Soon, the whispers took an ugly turn, they became lewd remarks, from lewd remarks they became physical obstructions whenever she passed by and constant cross questioning to me as to how I could seek out a girl.
X was puzzled about the manner in which things were panning out and was reeling under the pressure of being hounded on a daily basis. We used to try and get away from college campus just to speak with each other and avoid the humiliation of eve teasing. The institutional machinery to deal with this issue was in shambles. The college was relatively new compared to other law schools and had no effective administrator as on that date. The so called ‘gender sensitisation’ committee was defunct and was a dead end.
My so-called ‘friends’ watched, they watched me being torn part by part and reduced to tears but refused to intervene. They kept away since they didn’t want to get their hands dirty. College is a tough place if you have to deal with your battles alone and if the institutional framework fails you.Share this quote
Calling the cops to campus seemed maverick at that point — though in hindsight — should have tried it. It’s easy to comment on this now but courage when you’re 21 years old is relative when you have to face rowdy elements on your own with absolutely no support.
The typical mob mentality advice followed, wherein I was advised to try and beat up all the troublemakers by walking into their room. I did think about it but then also received news that the very same people who had advised me, had also booked top floor hostel balconies to see me getting bloodied. Better sense prevailed on me for the sake of my family who dearly loved me. I looked for hope in some way from some where.
Eve teasing in a law school — the sheer irony of it, and the ignominy of having to be on the receiving end of it was devastating. Soon, cyber bullying on Orkut (popular at that time) began, and I didn’t quite know how it would all end.Share this quote
Finally, I went ahead and begged and pleaded in front of the troublemakers to stop. To stop harassing and assaulting the dignity of a woman. The advice fell on deaf ears and reached a fever pitch thereafter. It did eventually stop, but with another caveat — they had found another feeble victim.
X left me. She left me for someone who was from her batch. She left me for peace of mind more than anything else. In hindsight, I didn’t really feel romantically inclined towards X. Eight years have passed since then, I still haven’t been able to completely get over the massive humiliation and embarrassment suffered.Share this quote
Why did the eve teasing happen in the first place? Are culture conflicts a breeding ground for eve teasers? Can institutional frameworks actually help stop eve teasing? These questions still plague me.
I did a course after college. I met my wife there who I dearly love and thank god that a relationship with X didn’t materialize. My wife actually had to ‘work’ on me to get me back into normalcy. It’s working. Thanks to her, I am living my life in a normal environment now. But, besides that point — the unanswered questions still remain. One of the eve teasers is a Judge in Rajasthan and the other is a leading RTI activist who is aspiring to crack civil services.Share this quote
Who is to question their past? Who is to raise a doubt on their future? Would karma catch up with them? Time will tell whether Yogi Adityanath’s 'romeo squads' actually work but, personally, I would say it is a great way to get the public engaged in a social malaise which has to be publicly condemned.