I received this upsetting email & video from a very brave and beautiful Indian girl. I think what upsets me the most is that fellow passengers and the driver did absolutely nothing to help her. What has the world come to when we stand by and do nothing to help a young girl being attacked on a city bus?
I wanted to post the victims account of what happened to her on August 4, 2012 in her own words.
I am a young, educated and decent Asian expatriate who was born and raised in Kuwait. I work for a newspaper. It is very difficult for me to travel in the country after sunset since I do not drive. It is so difficult to get a drivers' license even though I am capable of owning a vehicle. The government keeps bringing up numerous conditions, making it difficult for expatriates to get licenses. And those who meet the conditions(like I did), the officials intentionally fail us. Some recommended me to try getting a license using 'wasta' but I try not to succumb to such corrupt methods.
I am scared of taking taxis alone in the evenings as I have heard several stories of women getting raped. I cannot always rely on my family or friends to pick or drop me every time. So I thought if I ever get stuck in a situation where I do not have a ride after sunset, I will take a bus. But after a recent traumatizing incident, I started doubted that option.
On Saturday at 10:20 pm, I boarded bus #88 from Shuwaikh Canada Dry Street and was sitting at the side seats where women generally sit. While the bus was at a signal near Hawally Governorate, a group of Arab youths rushed towards the bus and pounded on the door until the driver opened it. Most of them occupied the seats at the back while a few sat in the front. While I was reading the newspaper, I could hear the boys talking loudly and spitting. When I heard the noise of cloth ripping, I looked to my left to see one of the boys tearing down the curtains. As soon as he caught me looking at him, I turned my face away as I was afraid of getting their attention. Their unruliness made me very nervous particularly since I was the only woman in the bus at that time.
Then the guys started throwing some garbage lying on the ground at me. I ignored it. But when an empty juice pack hit me, I took my cell phone and started recording their activities. They noticed me recording them and rushed towards me in a threatening manner. I immediately put down my phone as I was scared they would grab my phone. They started shouting at me in Arabic and I told them I couldn’t understand. Then one guy shouted ‘Delete’. I said ‘I wont’. He used a few offensive words and ripped the newspaper from me, which I was using as a shield against them. When I said I was working for a newspaper and I will report to my boss about them, one of the guys translated it loud in Arabic and suddenly there was chaos in the bus. I assume I got them nervous with that statement. They rushed out of their seats towards the exit, waiting for the bus to stop. While doing so, they began to slap me and spit on me. I could not defend myself or hit back as I was one woman versus 15 hefty Arab boys. They kept using offensive phrases at me and since I did not want to show that I was scared, I managed to scream back at them and used some offensive terms of my own even though I was trying to protect myself from their slaps and spit.
Eventually they left the bus but my hair and face was covered with spit. None of the men in the bus did anything to defend me from these unruly youths. After they left, I spoke to the Nepali driver and he said they use the buses very often and terrorize the people in the bus. I suggested that he should not stop the bus for these boys and he said they would stand in front of the bus as it approached them to make sure he stopped or would throw stones at the windows if he did not stop. I do not blame him, as the poor driver was scared of these youths as well.
I did have a bad experience with this bunch of boys before. Once when I was in the same bus with the same driver and the bus had stopped at a signal, these boys rushed to the bus and starting banging at the door. When the driver refused to open, they forced the door open and entered the bus. Once again I was sitting at the side seats and I saw these boys harassing the driver and shouting at him for not opening the door. One of the boys noticed me sitting on the side and he sat on my lap. I started shouting at him and tried pushing him away but he was too hefty and strong for me. To make it worse, he leaned back and started rubbing himself on me. It was very humiliating for me and I did not report this as I was embarrassed.
I shared this incident with a Filipino friend of mine who stopped using buses due to a particular reason. She explained that when she took a bus last year from Maliya at 9pm, along the way a group of five boys boarded the bus. They began to harass her and her friend by exposing their genitals and standing in front of them. They started crying and calling out for help but everyone in the bus including the driver ignored their cries, which encouraged the boys. After this incident, my friend stopped using the bus service.
It is difficult for young women to travel alone in the evenings. I thought traveling by bus would be safe but after such a traumatizing experience, I am not sure anymore.
One of the main problems here is when young boys travel in a group, people are afraid of them and their unruliness. Since travelling by buses is free for students, most of these boys vandalize the buses. I think the government should do something about this. My suggestion is they should not allow students to travel free by bus after 6pm unless they were with their parents. This is a small step to solve this incessant problem experienced by the residents of Kuwait.
Her story was covered by the Arab Times and you can read it [here].