'No, it is not your fault': An open letter to the young woman sexually harassed on the bus
From one victim to another...
To the young Singapore woman harassed on the bus, from a mum of two small girls,
You are strong and you are brave. You spoke up and defended yourself against the alleged molester. As a mother of two daughters, you have no idea how proud I am of you.
I am sorry you had to go through that experience. I imagine it is not something you will easily forget. You see, the truth is, I was also a victim of molestation. And even though it has been many years, since it happened, I still have a clear recollection of what happened that day.
I was in secondary school at that time and every day I would take the public bus to school. My housing area was relatively new and it was a nice and quiet neighbourhood.
I took the same route every day and never had any problems until one day a guy on a motorbike stopped me to ask for directions.
At first, I acted like I didn’t hear him. I was young, but I was street smart so I ignored him. I thought he had driven off but he must have made a U-turn to make a second attempt to get my attention. He stopped right in front of me and asked for directions. I was going to ignore him but I guess I just didn’t want to be rude. What if he genuinely needed help? How innocent and gullible was I?
I pointed in the direction where he needed to go and it was then that it happened. He reached out and grabbed my left breast before riding off quickly — glancing back to make sure I wasn’t running after him.
And why would I? I was barely 16. All I did was stand there in shock. I will never forget his face. I will never forget how I felt.
To the Singapore woman harassed,
I wish there was a fairy godmother with a wand in her hand to wish this all away. But since those fairytales are for dreamers, I can only tell you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you did absolutely nothing wrong.
You did not ask for it.
You were NOT dressed inappropriately.
Don’t even think you led anyone on.
You were not drunk.
And no, there was no way you could have prevented it from happening no matter how cautious you might have been.
You are innocent.
To the Singapore woman harassed,
After your post, along with support came hate, shame. I was shocked.
Ignore the haters, what do they know? We live in a world where women are objectified all the time. I worry about my own girls.
How did we raise weak men like this? Men with no morals? You were fully clothed and I was a school student in a pinafore past my knees. You did not bring this upon yourself. I did not bring this upon myself. And anyway, what we choose to wear should not give males the right to harass us, regardless.
Victim shamers do not understand the amount of courage needed for victims to come out and say they have been violated. Why else do crimes like these go unreported?
Victims fear exposure and possible loss of status. They risk scrutiny to their personal life. They could even lose their friends. Are victims’ experiences of violation and being molested not enough?
I try not to think about these things and what happened to me as a young girl. Every time I am reminded, the whole scene reruns in my head. Why didn’t I yell, “Stop!” or “Stay back!” Why didn’t I show that I was not afraid to fight back?
But now I know better. It was never my fault. It isn’t YOUR fault. And it will never be my daughters’ fault.
I have made a promise to myself to teach my girls how to fight back, to speak up. To never be afraid. To be bold, brave and fierce — just like you, the young woman harassed on the bus who did not keep quiet.
Know that you are an inspiration to all women out there, young and old.
feature and lead pictures taken from Coconuts