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The harassers and the harassed

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Ordinary people harass ordinary people every day in our cities and towns. Ordinary people harass themselves, too, by their own actions—self-harassment. Whichever it is, harassment is becoming a chronic infection in society. We even see educated people taking part in such lowly acts, well as I once said, we do have educated fools in our society.

Minibus drivers and conductors, vendors, men and women, boys and girls, the popular and the unpopular— the list is endless really: all these people take part in the act of harassment. Some perpetuate the act. Some support the act. Some condone the act. Others ignore the act. The bottom-line is they are all involved in the act one way or another.

People think it is acceptable to throw jabs at anyone just because it pleases them. You find a total stranger lashing at you for no particular reason at all or the reason being they are disgruntled with their own lives so they think it is acceptable to take it out on someone doing better than them. Some harass you simply because they are personally envious of you or hold some grudge.

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Minibus drivers and conductors think they can treat their customers anyhow just because it is “their” bus. This is not right it is a business of exchange; a customer pays for a service and the duty of the driver and the conductor is to loyally provide this service. It does not mean they now “own” the customers and have the right to bully and demean their integrity.

Funny thing is they treat a customer with royalty before they get onto a bus and pay. After that, the tables turn and people are treated with disrespect and no humility at all. I would have thought it is supposed to be the other way round, a customer becomes a customer after the exchange and the deal should be respected.

The minibus associations should look at both sides of the coin and not only one side. They should also ensure customer welfare. Maybe we need to have a minibus customers association that strictly looks after the welfare of customers. All one has to do is keep the licence plate number of the minibus and report.

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In general, though, the country needs a complete change of attitude when it comes to issues of harassment. People should not think they have a mandate to harass anyone be it physically, psychologically, intellectually, socially and sexually whenever it pleases their perverted or disturbed minds. It is not even a right or duty; it is funny how it is done with such a strong sense of obligation. You could admire this sense of obligation if only it was for a good cause.

It is also not acceptable that when a male person sees an attractive woman then he should think he has a right to talk to her, or better yet “demand” she listens to all the fantasies he now has running in his head. You meet a guy and he blocks your way, hovers uncomfortably close to you and some even get to the point of deliberately touching your arm. There are men who would caress a woman’s leg or arm in a minibus or public areas then act oblivious about it after.

This is simply unacceptable behaviour and there should be better policies about such things—on top of the change of attitude. People should not think they have a right to harass other people and those that get harassed should not take it lightly. Sad thing is most people suffer harassment in silence because when they confront the issue, they are further “harassed for being harassed” by a larger number of people.

People should also learn not to harass themselves. Your conduct can also be self-harassment. The way you carry yourself, dress and interact with others can be a form of self-harassment if not handled with care. Such behaviour places other people around you in an awkward position.

You get lit (drunk) and go around town acting like a knuckle head, harassing yourself. Unacceptable behaviour.

You meet someone’s mother dressed like a 14-year-old and acting like one. Confusing behaviour. You see a “respected” church elder going around chasing girls of the age of his lastborn daughter, harassing himself. Abominable behaviour!

My plea is for society to refrain from harassment regardless of which angle it comes from.

I rest my case.

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