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MEHREEN HASHMI

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Definition of harassment based on true events - Part 1!

Last week, while discussing harassment in general, I and my female friend were discussing our own experiences and reminding each other’s as well. We happened to experience many and most of it happens on a daily basis. I have received several inappropriate messages including pornography, marriage proposals of strangers on my official page which I use for work entirely, several messages insisting to accept their friend requests, people following my car (which must have happened to all the ladies in their lifetime), been groped right outside my gate while parking my car four years ago and so on. Since I have learned to stand for myself and take appropriate action more than screaming and cursing on them, the number of such incidents has decreased. Once I shared screenshots of entire chat from a fellow artist who insisted inappropriately to chat with him on my profile, many others witnessed it, since then no one else has disturbed me. I am sharing very few and major ones here. The worst part is that I have been always told to ignore or keep quiet mainly by women.


Last year, we faced an electricity break down at our house. After calling our beloved K Electric, I drove to nearby office and filed a complaint in person. They asked for my contact number for correct address and to inform them once it's solved. The electrician who later visited to solve the issue showed the audacity to add my number on WhatsApp and tried to chat with me. He also mentioned it to other people in the house also. Of Course, I blocked him immediately!

One afternoon, while I was driving home, I noticed a man on his bike riding literally next to my car. He was following me but from my side. My first thought was an attempt of mugging. But to shocking surprise, he was jerking off while looking at me driving my car. I could not think of a solution or reaction to that. I drove with an act of complete ignorance and drove as fast as possible away from him.
This year, I faced some sexist comments from a person that was assigned to monitor the progress of my on-going project not my clothes which he mentioned later. While reaching late on his designated time, disturbing a workshop while I was conducting it, sharing his concerns regarding my western attire (I was wearing a kurti on jeans) with the staff members of that institute where I have conducted the workshop (these people did not know me personally and monitoring team cannot share such concerns with any one besides the organization). Another day while my female artists were working on site with labor’s, welder and a mason, we faced an episode of being humiliated for being girls taking help of a mason who was a man in clear words. Those incidents got reported officially. This time, I did not have to say much because other two female colleagues took charge of both incidents and their behavior all together with me. All of this humiliation for what we were wearing, they did not consider the fact of working in scorching heat on site against all odds. That day, it was not only about me but my other three female team members.  

I and my female friends have been through so many such incidents whereas there is a long list of people calling on your number which has been taken from a form while you visited the hospital or bought an internet connection. I have taught a lesson to a prank caller, a biker who followed me from my workplace to home through hitting his bike with my car, another biker who tried to grope in front of my house while I was opening the gate to park my car, an artist who I added in my Facebook profile being a curator and he sent me several messages to chat with him and so on.  He is not the only one who expects me to be available, thankfully options of blocking, ignore messages and block messages have solved this issue. Those prank callers who non-stop called on my number and tried to scare while mentioning my name and address. I know, there is an option of blocking these people and ignoring these messages. But ignorance is not the answer always and one needs his lesson.

I don’t understand why women don’t harass men, why we don’t follow their vehicles, why don’t we catcall, why don’t we insist them to be our friends, why don’t we grope them in public and why doesn’t we decide their clothing. Because we are so occupied by dealing with their nuisance and justifying our existence.