I’m a woman who drives a car almost everyday and have been doing so for the last 9 years. But I was not prepared for what happened to me a few days ago. I had taken my car out of my building. I was waiting for my sister. So, I pulled over on the left side of the road. When she came out, I looked at the rear view mirror to check that there weren’t any cars behind and it was okay to take a right turn. I took right as I had to go back into the building. I wasn’t even done taking the right turn when all of a sudden, a car at a high speed banged right into mine.
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I could barely register what just happened. I rolled down the window and before I could say anything, the passenger from the other car started yelling at me. “Are you stupid?” he asked me. And then went on to accuse me of negligent driving. To give you a little background, I was taking the right turn after checking my rear view, he appeared out of nowhere, speeding, and hit my car. But since I’m a woman, it somehow becomes ‘my fault’. And it wasn’t the driver who was shouting, it was the passenger sitting right next to him. Not once did they enquire if anything had happened to me physically.
While all this was going on, my dad figured there was a problem and came downstairs to stand by me. Imagine two grown men standing in the middle of the road cornering me, yelling at me for no fault of mine. They had somehow decided between themselves that it was my mistake. I stood my ground, giving them a good fight. If all this was not enough, the men calculated the damages merely by looking at the car and demanded ₹5000.
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We flatly refused to pay. Why would we? My dad called 100 and the police arrived 15 minutes later. By that time, a huge crowd had gathered around us and it had become sort of a spectacle. The driver of the other car didn’t even let me move my car and clear the road. He wanted the cars to be in the ‘accident position’. The cops took our details and asked us to accompany them to the police station.
Our car was so badly damaged from the driver’s side that the door wouldn’t open completely. I noticed that some fluid was leaking. The steering wheel had shifted as well and risky and dangerous to drive even for 10 minutes. Despite that, the police insisted that there was no other way.
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Since we wanted to resolve the issue and get past this whole incident, we drove all the way to the police station. The other driver was there already. The inspector looked at me and asked me whose fault it was. He did not once ask me what had exactly happened. He just asked me whose fault it was. I told him honestly what all had happened and how the two men cornered me, yelled at me and were constantly blaming me for something that was clearly their fault. The inspector said that it was clear then. How was it clear? I was taken aback. Just because the two men were blaming me, he decided it was my fault? We tried giving him our point of view so that he could see both sides of the story and take a stand. But he had already made up his mind without even listening to us.
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When all this was happening, the cops were amusing themselves with ‘whatsapp forwards’ which is quite insensitive and plain pathetic. One cop asked the other if he had received the whatsapp forward. The other cop checked his phone and chuckled. He then forwarded it to the lady inspector. This went on for 5 minutes while we waited. Realising he was in the middle of an accident-fight case, the cop looked my way and asked me why was I still sitting there? He asked me to go sit in a corner, he’ll talk to my dad. Why? Because man to man conversation is easier than woman to man? That it’ll make more sense if the girl just sat in a corner and waited for men to solve it? This was both baffling and upsetting.
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I have a driver’s license. I drive a car almost every day. I was driving when someone banged into me. And I wasn’t being spoken to because I’m a woman. To top it all, the ill-informed inspector said he would put a ‘rash driving’ charge against us which was totally baseless! All we needed was to resolve the situation, file a formal complaint letter signed by the police so we could claim insurance.
It was a very unpleasant experience that went on for about 2 hours. I was discriminated against, yelled at and made to sit aside. How have we progressed when these situations occur in an urban city daily?
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