Unwelcome touch

Last week, like every other week, I stood in a long line outside the temple where people stood so close to one another that one could hear the other breathe. After reaching the inside, a guy would usher every visitor out (like one slides a door, touching). I understand the necessity of maintaining the smooth flow of people, but I loathe being touched by a stranger, especially when it is absolutely unnecessary. It was the same story every week, so I finally decided to say something, “I will hurry, please don’t touch me”. Hearing this, his face seemed to feel the gush of blood; he wasn’t happy about it for what he spat was disappointing. Now this was in Kathmandu, I didn’t dare to imagine the rural areas. One doesn’t necessarily be oversensitive to avoid touch, but people just don’t like it, whatever be the reason.

Teaching a child about molestation and sexual harassment is extremely important, for sometimes a child doesn’t realize what is going on unless it reaches an extreme stage. Indeed, all touching necessarily need not be guided by ill intention. But a simple no should mean no. Furthermore, touching anyone other than yourself without their consent should not be acceptable. Hitting or  scolding a child when they voice touch (any form),  demotivates the child and makes them nervous, reserved, scared in decision making, feel less important, feel that they don’t matter and become scared of making mistakes. So when being touched by unwanted people, they simply tend to ignore further fuss and adjust to the situation. This is wrong.

In Nepal, we grow up in a loving and close circle where we are made aware of the social hierarchy and fed with logic rather than knowledge leaving minimum space for a child to actually explore, learn and grow. So, scrutiny is obvious when one talks, speaks or writes about not agreeing on being touched by strangers. Say, a child may not like to be patted by a relative to which s/he may try to sulk to avoid it. Once the child is scolded for being rude, he will gather the concept that touching by an adult should be acceptable. This close circle we live in struggles on proving itself to this dynamic modern world and in this hassle, virtue is often compromised. Giving others the first priority, considering others’ preferences is the best solution; this will positively influence how people behave with one another. Only then will one understand others’ privacy and opinions.