Beware of Good Samaritans

We went to see a movie last night. The plan was that I would join my husband, (on his evening shift), at his office and from there go to the movie theatre. So, after dinner, I set off for the sub urban railway station, about 1 km from my house.

Just to give you an idea about the neighbourhood - our apartment complex is located in an interior road which connects two arterial roads. The fact that it connects two arterial roads is a rather well kept secret. As a result, the road is less crowded during the day and wears a deserted look at night.

So - there I was, ambling along the path, enjoying the cool evening breeze and savoring the anticipation of watching a movie, when I noticed a car parked on the bend of the road. Having lived alone, in a large city, during my single days, alarm bells went off in my head. And sure enough, as I passed by the car, its occupant, a darkish young man called out: ' Excuse me...'.

Deliberately, I put some more distance between me and the car before turning to ask: 'Yes?'.
'Do you live in XXX Apartments?
' Yes' I replied coldly. Being the only apartment complex on the road, the question rather answered itself.
'Come, I will drop you wherever you are going' was next.
'No thank you.' I retorted, groping for my phone.
' I'm your neighbour' he said, and smiled (evily I thought)
'No thank you. I prefer to walk'. Putting an end to the conversation, I walked away.

This incident is something which most women living in cities might have experienced and dealt with in myriad different ways. Some of you reading this post might think that I took a risk walking down a deserted road at night. What is the alternative? Be a prisoner in my home after sunset?

I had taken measures to minimise the risk. My family was aware of my whereabouts, I had my mobile phone - fully charged, was dressed conservatively and had removed expensive jewellery from my person. And though the road was deserted, the street lights were on and it was fully lit - and for God's sake, cant a woman walk 1 km down the road without being accosted?!

Let us assume, for argument's sake, that the gentleman in question did not have sinister motives. That he was, in fact, my neighbour (though I do not recall having seen him at all). Offers of help, in these troubled times, must be accompanied with full and complete information that will help the 'helpee' establish the credentials of the 'helper'. For eg. 'I am your neighbour' can be accompanied with name and flat number. Simple, verifiable facts!

I doubt this will deter me from continuing with life and doing my own thing. And indeed it shouldnt. I wrote this post to know, from other women, their experiences, thoughts and opinions. And from men - what is your opinion, position, stand on these type of incidents? How can we make neighbourhoods safer for women?

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2 Responses to Beware of Good Samaritans

  1. mccbala says:

    Nice post.. The "helpee & helper" stuff makes me feel that we should carry an ID tag and flash it with a "We're from FBI.." tone whenever we decide to help others, even the people we know.. ;) But even a polite refusal would make us feel stupid. So we come to a point which makes us say,

    "To offer, or not to offer, that is the question."

    May be we can rephrase it as

    "To help, or not to help, that is the question."


  2. Deepa says:

    That is an excellant idea dude! Perhaps we should have a national data base of good samaritans. And people who register should be issued a card. Like a PAN card or election card!

    Try it out and let me know how it worked. And perhaps I will recommend it to potential good samaritans in the future.