Ulrike Reinhard is working in Madhya Pradesh where she gives kids skateboarding lessons. It was just another day when she was in a village and was touched on the arm twice by a 14-year-old boy.
This is going to be a longer Facebook post. One of the things that is bothering me most in India is this male dominance where ever you go. Many men – even young men and elder kids – seem to be equipped with a macho gen that makes them feel superior to any woman. Not only do they feel that they are superior they act like it. And today was the day when I took one of them to the police.
We were walking with two of the Janwaar kids through the Sunday market in Panna, trying to figure out where are the best places for our photo shoot next week. It was packed with the villagers from the surrounding areas offering their vegetables. A young guy came from the back, took his arm around me and touched my upper left arm – at least twice. He passed me on the right side quickly. I followed up and asked him what on earth gave him the right to simply touch me. His answer came immediately and surprisingly: ” I am a man”, he said. This was the moment when I freaked out. The entire market was standing around us – me shouting at him and he making somehow fun of me. So I told him I will take him to the police. First he had a big mouth but when he finally realized that this would happen he was following the advice of many people and forcefully he apologized. Because of his behaviour I refused to accept his apologies. And I walked with him towards the police. 50 m in front of the police station, after some zickzack walk, he jumped on a motor scooter of a friend of his and disappered. He was laughing.
That was his second big mistake. I went to the police and within 5 minutes the police guys caught him and brought him to the officer. Slowly he began to understand that he might be in trouble. His entire family and friends of the family showed up – telling me that they are such a good family and and and … they told me that they would beat the shit out of him back home and that he would face punishment. I asked them what this would change. It’s important that he understands what went wrong. That he is not in the position to treat women like this …. It was hard to make them understand …
The officer asked him questions and his answers were lies … Third mistake. I wrote down the case, we translated it into Hindi – meanwhile they brought the young guy behind bars. It turned out he was only 14 years old, but he looked very bully. The family even brought one of the guy’s teachers in who told us that he was a good boy and never behaved wrong. I’ve asked the teacher how many children are at the school. He replied 1000.
This was the moment when an idea took shape in my head. I asked the officer if I could file the case still on wednesday. He said yes. So I gave the guy and his family the idea – that they could turn the case into something good if they start (as a well-known family in Panna) together with the school a campaign “How to treat women right!” – our boy in the major role. They looked surprised, the officer liked the idea and said that he would join the meeting and we agreed that we would come together on tuesday afternoon. Until then they’ve time to figure out how they could run such a campaign and how the boy can contribute. We will meet at 3.30 pm.
The police officer was acting very professional. He hardly intervened, he clearly said that he would file the case if I wish and he was trying to make the guy understand his options. And he was happy about my proposal.
I think after two hours or so we left the police station, our Janwaar kids were waiting outside. It was there moment now. Arun, a 13 year old boy, showed the officers how to skateboard. It was quite some fun! And Durgha our little girl was a bit shy among all these adults but at the end she smiled and we all left quite exhausted for a late lunch.