This morning, I was part of a big group of runners, celebrating the end of our #100daysofrunning challenge, and a lovely morning it was, too.  Hot as hell, horrifically humid, but great fun.  Here’s the link to the photos of our morning in my running blog.

The short tale I am about to tell now, however, is – sadly – not related to running, but to sexual molestation.

We were a group of –  what? – about 50/60 runners and we met at India Gate, in the absolute heart of Delhi.  India Gate is the national war memorial, and always has cops on duty there.   There is even a makeshift police post there.

Note this latter fact, please, since it has a direct impact on what I’m about to tell you.

So, yes, India Gate this morning.

Busy busy busy, with not just our group, but loads of other runners and cyclists.

We were all standing around chatting and eating cake after our run, and I was standing with two charming youngsters, Seema Yadav (happy birthday for yesterday) and Mohit Bhutani.  A man was hanging around –  scruffy looking but not out-and-out filthy beggar-ish, if you see what I mean.  He spoke some English and kept asking me questions (was I an American, what time was it, that kind of stuff).  But, to be honest, I’m used to being asked questions all the time in India, simply by virtue of being a foreigner.

There was nothing overly creepy about the man, just a tad weird, but still we moved away from him.  He followed us.  But we were a large group, and people in India always hang around and see what’s happening, so this man just seemed like your usual poor hanger-on type.

Until he reached out and touched my breasts.  And then ran away at top speed.

I screamed and gave chase, and this, remember, is all taking place about 10 metres from India Gate, with the police detail.

I yelled out for someone to stop him, and a cyclist did precisely that (thank you whoever you are) and when I caught up with the creep I whacked him a couple of times and kicked him (but sadly not my trademark kick in the balls for molesters like him).

And all this while, the cops were doing…

Yup.

SFA.

Several of the wonderful, utterly fabulous young men from our #100days running group immediately ran over and intervened.

And I guess it was about this time, with several men thumping the bloke, that the cops s-l-o-w-l-y wandered over.

As in ambled over.

No haste.

No concern.

I left the scene at that point, and rejoined our group, but the whole thing left a nasty taste.

I was lucky enough today to have wonderful fit young men watching out for me, but had I been alone?  The seeming lack of interest on the part of the cops left me in no doubt that had it not been for the great blokes in my group, nothing would have happened to this sleaze bag.

If he feels he can reach out and touch a woman of my age, God help any little girl he encounters.

In broad daylight.

Under the noses of the cops.

The only light-hearted moment came when one of the runners pointed out that my #100days training had definitely helped me sprint after my molester in super quick time.

My friend Abhishek took to Twitter & Facebook to voice his outrage, for which I thank him and all the other fab men in our group.

abhishek

57 Comments

  1. Manisha Srivastava

    It is indeed shocking and makes all of us women worry about how safe we are in public spaces.
    Since the cops on duty did not seem to respond, this incident should be brought to the knowledge of the Police Commissioner of Delhi so that they are held accountable.

  2. Jane

    So angry and sorry my love. This guy might not try it again, but there are still so many million others. I hope chasing him made you feel more in control, but the non-reaction of the police is almost worse. So sorry.

  3. It was really sad that shameful incident had happened in day light and in presence of many runners. I thought of teaching him life time punishment if police hasn’t taken him into their custody. All such incidents are spoiling Indian image globally.

  4. So disgusted to read this Christine. Sometimes I wonder if cops are so complacent about this because they don’t understand how awful it is to be violated like that. Maybe they think it is a trivial thing. And I won’t be surprised if secretly they blamed you for it. Because you were there. Because you wore certain kind of clothes. Because you were in a group that consisted of men too. Because you engaged with the man. Yada yada yada. They need to be sensitized and educated but obviously who’s doing that?

  5. After reading this I am feeling sad and ashamed Christine Pemberton that this happened and I was not there to stop it . You are not a foreigner any more , you are one of us and this kind of incidents are unpardonable ….. I wish you would have given your kind of kick to this molester . Disgusting !!!!

  6. Oh hell Cyber friend.
    I am sorry you had to experience this and thank heavens for your friends. It’s a horrible horrible feeling. Yes the cops do nothing.
    I wonder if they will ever protect their citizens, female especially. Or continue to look on as one would a show. Makes me sick.
    Glad you gave the rat a beating.

    I would file an FIR against the man AND those policemen who did sod all.

    Big hug to you.

  7. Extremely distressing to read and hear about your unfortunate incident today Christine ! I wonder if we will ever be able to eradicate this aspect of some men in india … 🙁 being a woman and a mother of a little girl makes me wish I was born male sometimes… Only cos I know the cops won’t do anything !! Anyways , glad to know that u r ok ! Do Tc !

    1. Oh Devender you are being so supportive. Tragically, every country has its share of sexual molesters. But what worries me the most about India is what would appear to be, by and large, police indifference. To be honest, there are days when I can hardly bear to read the papers here, and read the stories of rape victims being ignored by the police. I think what shocked me the most about today was the fact that it was in such a public place, right in the heart of the capital, and just a week from Independence Day when one would have expected the cops to be slightly more alert. Thank you so much for being so concerned.

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