When 23-year-old Karuna (name changed) attended a team dinner for the first time, just a month after she moved to Chennai for her job, she was the only woman who ordered a beer along with her male counterparts. Little did she know that this would become the topic of discussion for the next few days.
"Almost everyone on the table seemed to be surprised. For almost a month after that, one of my colleagues made it a point to tell everyone that I drank alcohol. Every conversation between him and me would involve questions about when I started drinking, and why I started drinking. I am not at all sure what the relevance was and it made me feel judged," Karuna, who moved to the city earlier this year, told The Quint.
Women in Chennai are tired of being subjected to moral policing simply because drink in public spaces like pubs and restaurants. It has not much to do with safety per se, but the gaze with which women in these public recreational spaces are viewed by society at large – they are considered 'out-of-control', and 'immoral', just as reflected in the coverage of Big Bulls Lounge 'raid' on 19 November, multiple women told The Quint.
On 19 November – the evening of the ICC World Cup 2023 – at least two Tamil TV channels, including Thanthi TV and Polimer News, allegedly ran behind the women exiting the pub, forcibly filmed them, and purportedly passed lewd comments at their attire.