Aneeqa has been cycling on the roads of Lahore for the past five years. Her time on the road has been mostly uneventful, until one morning in March. She posted publicly about what happened on Facebook, and the post went viral, even being published by a local newspaper. This is what she wrote:
“It was a regular Sunday morning that typically starts out with an early morning bike ride — a routine that I have been following for the past four years. I was enjoying the chilly morning breeze and empty roads when I realized that some boys in a white Cultus were tailing me. At first, I did not take them very seriously because it is common for men here to get excited when they see women cycling. But it started bothering me when they persisted. Eventually I decided to turn into the nearest service lane, hoping it might deter them. But, they followed me there too. I felt a sense of panic and tried to look for someone, anyone around I could approach for help but the roads were completely empty at this hour. After howling and hooting at me at the top of their lungs and honking non-stop, they realized that they were unsuccessful in soliciting my attention. They then hit my bike and sped away. The push sent me hurtling forward; I fell flat on the road on my face. My helmet thankfully saved me from any head injuries, but there were other minor injuries and scratches on my body. Dazed, I tried to recall their license plate number, I couldn’t. Their car was behind me the whole time. The only time they pulled up in front was when I was lying on the road after which they sped away.
“Admittedly, this was not the first time I was harassed on the street. It has happened several times before but I avoided talking about those experiences, even with close friends and family, because I did not want them to worry about me every time I went out cycling. Another reason for not sharing it publicly was to avoid discouraging other female cyclists from pursuing this activity.”