Stalking – A real and virtual menace
With the increasing cases of molestation and rape, women are joining self defence classes to get more confident and physically fit to fight against attackers. Café speaks to women about their experiences of dealing with stalkers online and in the real world
Women are strong minded and confident, but protecting themselves when physically threatened requires a different skill set. Recently, the case of a young woman from Haryana being stalked came to light when her father complained to the police and posted on social media about the same. The police were quick to track down the culprits and took action against them even though he was the son of Haryana’s BJP Chief. In Goa too, stalking is something most women have had to face. While walking on the street itself, a stranger could keep a lookout for you or come up and try to start a conversation. “I work in Panjim and even during the day, when the streets are buzzing with people, there are men who stalk women. As I was walking for lunch, a man on a bike stopped and asked for directions. Even though I noticed that it was a Goa registered bike, I explained the route. The next day, he again asked for directions. This time I bluntly asked him, if he really wanted directions. That’s when he said that he wanted to be friends with me. I was furious and I yelled at him in public. Since then, thankfully, I have not seen him again,” shares Dorothy D’Silva. Mary Fernandes from Mapusa works at a renowned hotel in Panjim. Working the night shift, she used to ride home. Now, she travels by car which is much safer. “The stretch from Sangolda to Guirim has no proper street lighting and though it is the highway, it gets pretty dark when there are no vehicles on the road. I travel home after I finish my duty, around 3am, and I often come across men on bikes and cars who slow down or dodge their vehicles when they realise it is a single woman. When I used to be on the bike, boys, even locals, would purposely ask for directions to strike up a conversation. I never stopped or replied because that was not the time or place to make small talk with potential threats,” says Mary. Perpetua Fernandes from Margao faced online stalking when she added a stranger on a calling and messaging app on her phone. That was her biggest mistake which she regretted for two whole weeks. “I received a Facebook Messenger request to chat and I added this individual who I thought was a college friend who shared the same name. From the moment I accepted his request, I started receiving calls from his account which I did not respond to. Usually, if one refuses to answer your call, you should understand that this person is not interested in having a conversation. However, this person went on calling and messaging me for two continuous weeks. The minute I used to open the app, I would start getting calls and messages, till one night, when I went online and messaged that person not to bother me. When he still didn’t oblige, I finally blocked him,” Perpetua recollects that ordeal. Though we regard Goa to be much safer than other states in the country, women should always have their guard up against possible threats. Safety, whether online or in the real world, should not be taken for granted.
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