What’s the worst thing that can happen in an examination hall?
What is the worst thing that can happen to you in an examination hall?
That you are caught cheating? Or, that you prepared for the wrong exam?
No. Of course those things are pretty bad, but the worst thing that can happen to you in an examination hall is to be sexually harassed by the invigilator.
Picture this: you are busy thinking about some weird biology term or phenomenon that could ruin your grade if you jumble it up.
You are drenched in sweat because the fans are out of order. The windows are broken so the sunlight pierces through and hits your eyes, making it difficult for you to see properly. And this is made worse by your glasses reflecting those rays across the room.
The invigilators seem least bothered about starting the exam on time as they munch on their samosas.
When the paper finally does begin, you see the reptilian male invigilator walking past the first row of girls touching their shoulders and arms. He seems so weak yet so powerful in the hall.
The man touches almost every girl (except the skinny ones and the short ones).
You see some girls repelling and crying softly, some stay quiet as if struck by lightning because they fear that he might accuse them of cheating, and they would miss a whole year.
So passionate about getting into a medical college, some don’t even react.
Unfortunately, my sister was in that ill fated hall. When she came home she narrated the whole story and shared her feelings and fears:
“Apa, my heart was pounding so hard that I almost felt it was going to rip my chest as if it wanted to come out and shout. But I didn’t let him do anything. I showed him my furious eyes. So he made a disgusted frown and moved on to the other row.”
She was brave enough to fight him off.
But, one person can’t do much in such situations, except protect oneself.
The girls didn’t complain to the authorities after the exam because they feared backlash from society as well as the college they belonged to, if this became news and brought a bad name to the institution.
Instead, they went home silently, deciding to keep whatever happened, a secret.
The girls were so blinded by their passion to get into a medical college and not miss a year, that they took a risk to be abused by a disgusting man, half their weight. They all should have stood up for each other and for themselves. Had he been reported by a bunch of girls, the authorities would have believed them and none of their fears would have materialised in reality.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.