I would relate my discomfort in public to my childhood visits to ‘Bohri Bazar” and the ‘Empress Market’ in the Saddar area of Karachi. Both of which are located in district central of the city. As the name suggests these spaces are markets selling eatables, utensils, clothing, household items, cosmetics, books, shoes and so forth. Apart from small 100 sqft shops these markets are dense with street vendors who reappear despite several anti-encroachment drives by the city authorities.
Despite the presence of women and families in large numbers in the market, I felt discomfort from the men ogling and making lewd remarks and gestures. Sometimes they’d try to pass touching or feeling you up. And all that despite the fact that I was only a child of 9-10 years, not even a fully grown woman. I felt they were out there to get me or something. Never did I try to complain to my accompanying parents out of fear of creating a scene.
I recall most of the men engaged in such behavior were seen with no particular business at the market. Most were just loitering and belonged to the lower social income class whereas they could be from any ethnicity. The body language of these men were as if they owned the place though they did not engage in any relevant activity while the women despite being a part of the goods exchange were in most cases were covered from head to toe, kept a low profile & maintained eye contact only where required.
This has to be my first memory of discomfort in a public space.