History and crime statistics show us that women don’t have to cross a certain age bar before they need to think about every man they interact within our country. Even under the lockdown, women, and girls get a reminder time and again about how fragile the state of their security is, whether it is physically or digitally. Another aspect of facing harassment is to open up about it. Most women choose to let such incidences go and teens are no different.
But just what deters young girls from speaking up about sexual harassment? What keeps them from seeking help? To know more SheThePeople reached out to five teens:
Ayaana, a 15-year-old school-going girl says that the reason why most girls may not talk about facing harassment instantly is that they need some time to fully understand what exactly has happened with them. Says she, “I think, it takes time to process things such as sexual harassment. Some teenagers cannot process the fact that they were sexually harassed. More so, our society has created a taboo around topics like sexual harassment, therefore thinking its better not to say anything about it. Teenagers and children dealing with sexual harassment and abuse may also be hesitant because they rather not recall the incident and be questioned and labeled about it.”
Riya Jain too feels that speaking out about sexual harassment is not easy, and can be a very painful experience. “It’s a constant struggle to get through the trauma and nightmares, says she, adding, “Some teens don’t disclose anything about their experience for years, while others may never do so”. The 16-year-old says that one of the many reasons for this is the feeling of shame, weakness, or even responsibility for what their perpetrators did to them. “Thinking about, and remembering the experience again can be extremely painful. In some cases, the perpetrator might be a close member of the victim’s family, which further delays disclosure.”
Anayat (name changed on request), a tenth standard student says, “I think the reason behind teens not being open, especially to their parents, is because the society is judgemental. Also, I feel that there is always a fear of ‘how will our parents react to the situation’. Teens fear that people will judge them and that pressures them into silence”.
Thea Aggarwal, a school student in tenth grade believes they feel embarrassed and ashamed. Sometimes, she says, teen can’t find the appropriate space to talk about such incidences and are worried about the possible repercussions. “Most of them fear that they might get in some serious trouble due to it and that they’d be called names. They also fear that speaking up could further lead to experiencing more harassment,” she says.
Manisha (name changed on request) is a ninth standard student, strongly feels that teens need to overcome this sense of shame and open up about harassment, especially to their parents. “They feel ashamed or feel that parents might look at them differently, but in reality, they are the ones who would help them unconditionally.”
Bhavya Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.