It was noon and I was leaving the hospital after our morning rounds to head towards a meeting at the Norwegian embassy.
I walked out and took the first cab I found, I was too excited and nervous to notice that the driver already had 2 clients in the back of the car, so I had to sit next to them. He took them to their destination and once we were alone he started asking me questions about my age, what I was studying, my origins. I tried to keep my answers as short as possible and to answer politely.
Suddenly, I noticed he was taking the wrong way and when I told him that, he said, “I want to get to know you better, we can have lunch before I take you to the embassy, you can take us to any fancy restaurant you want, you are a doctor you must be rich.” I was scared, to say the least, and I failed to hear the rest of what he said. I couldn’t ask him to stop, we were next to a very dangerous place, and I kept praying we will get somewhere safer so I can ask him to stop. When I did, he simply refused and put his right hand on my leg, and when I removed it he went mad and took my hand instead. He refused to let it go.
Luckily, there was a police car in front of us, so I started yelling and asking him to let me go. He did, and I paid him (The price was doubled since he took a longer way). I froze for several minutes. I didn’t know what to do next. Fortunately, I got his car’s number. I headed to that supposedly happy meeting shattered and super sad.
I spent the next days crying at night, and I couldn’t even look at my hands. I washed them every 10 minutes, and I was very ashamed of myself. I was ashamed because I didn’t punch him in the face, ashamed because I didn’t run to that police car to tell them about what happened, I was so angry because I didn’t hold him accountable, and because I didn’t stand up for myself. I felt like I gave up on my feminist principles. But what was I doing? Blaming myself for something that wasn’t my fault. I was, like so many others blaming a woman, the victim, for something only the assaulter should be blamed for.
I told my mother about this, she was so scared and mad, and her response was, “You have to press charges, maybe he will lose his job, maybe his family will starve, but that’s not your fault! It’s his, and it’s better to have their father suspended from work rather than having him in jail”. She was right, and I am so thankful we had this conversation. I was lucky enough not to get raped, I was lucky enough not to be very weak so he couldn’t harm me more than he already did. But maybe, maybe he did that to other women, maybe he will rape a 12-year-old teenager unable to defend herself if I don’t try to stop him right now!
Two days later, I went to the police office, gave them his car’s number and told them about his crime. They were so nice and helpful. To press charges against him was one of the things I have done that I am the proudest of!
To all the women out there, I know you have already gone through difficult experiences like I have, most certainly worth experiences. Don’t feel bad or ashamed about it. We have a culture of rape and victim blaming but remember that your ONLY responsibility is to speak up about it, and to stand up for yourselves and for other women.