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Wanted Attention

January 10, 2013

7 January 2013 – Washington, D.C.

A woman sits on a bus.
A man sits next to this woman.
He turns to her, words rumbling forth from his mouth in no particular pattern, but they are laced with disrespect and cruelty.
“Where’s your Burqa?…You should make me your husband that way I can command you.”
The woman pays him no mind, and neither do any of the bus’ passengers.
He continues to spew words of ridiculousness.
His words echo loudly, enough for every ear to hear.
“I know my breath spells like alcohol, but I would rather not eat right now and talk with you instead.”
His words of ridiculous begin to harbor threat.
“I should rip those eyelashes from your face.”
The girl continues to look out the window.
“Look at those ugly dots all over your face.”
The girl’s gaze remains focused on the street as the bus pushes forward.
The man lifts his hand, and places it hovering above the girl’s knee.
“I’m going to grab your leg, woman.”
The girl remains seated, staring out the window.
The man repeats himself.
“I’m going to grab you right now.”
Again and again.
“I’m going to command you.”
The bus stops at 15th and P Street.
The woman stands up from her spot and moves hurriedly towards the door, into the fresh air free from words of malice.

This is not India.
This is not Cairo.
This is Washington, D.C.
And that woman was me.

This story is not particularly harmful if you only read its surface. The girl could have moved, I could have moved. But chose not to. Instead I remained seated, understanding the situation fully, so that I could observe the actions of my fellow bus passengers. And the words of that man on the bus hurt nothing like the lack of action or attention this incident received from every individual standing close by. Women read text messages and old men read their newspapers.

People die because others decide to just stand by.

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