The shocking CCTV footage of two young men sexually assaulting a woman on a dimly lit road on New Year’s Day, as passers-by look on callously, has left Bengaluru and the country shocked and outraged.
The crime has rightly sparked off debate on women’s safety and gender violence. However, amid all the anger being directed at the molesters, one question that has regularly recurred on social media is, “Why was she out at 2:40 am?”
What should we make of this question, one that arises every time a woman is attacked late at night? The News Minute asked five women about their opinion of this argument, that has been echoed by so many citizens – men and women alike.
“A Blame Game With No Logic”
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, NCW Chairperson: We all react with outrage at such incidents. But are we looking inwards? And what are we doing to see it doesn’t happen again? What sort of men are we raising in India, where they can do anything to women and get away with impunity! There is no respect for women. We are always finding fault with women. Indian society needs to start looking inward.
Sudha Ramalingam, Advocate: It’s shifting blame on women. It’s very easy to blame a woman. The primary duty of the state and society is to make sure all places are made safe – notwithstanding what she is wearing, where she is and what time it is. It is immaterial. Safety in all spaces – in public or private space is the need of the hour. This is a blame game with no logic and an easy way to justify crime against women.
“They Think It Is Their Birth Right to Molest Women”
Gita Aravamudan, Journalist and Author: I don’t think that the hour of day has anything to do with molestation. Molesters will molest at any time of day. I disagree with that theory. I am 69-years-old – I think in my youth I have been molested in the streets of Bengaluru, New Delhi and Trivandrum in broad daylight. People don’t need to see the time of day or see a person in a certain dress to molest someone. It is a kind of macho thing to do to molest a woman.
This happens in crowds especially. It’s not a new phenomenon. It’s being encouraged, where they think it is fun and girls enjoy it.
It has nothing to do with late nights, nothing to do with clothes or the western concept of New Year. Molestation happens in traditional places too, at temple fests where women are traditionally clad.
There was a drunken unruly crowd and when they get together, they think it is their birth right to molest women.
“Their Mindset Remains Feudal”
Brinda Adige, Social Activist: Men forget they are not keepers of women, they forget women are whole, complete citizens without men protecting them. Men need to respect us as women, and treat us with dignity. They don’t have sole right over our bodies and to moralise about our eating, drinking, and where we go. This mindset shows that no matter what technology reaches, what technology these people use – their mindset remains feudal. The mindset is of subjugating women, that women’s bodies are not their own. They assume they have right over our bodies and they clearly need to be told that it is not so.
“As Part of Media, Our Energy Should Be Directed to How This Plays Out”
Nisha Susan, Writer and Co-founder of ‘Ladies Finger’: Once the news cycle takes over, I find it becomes very strange. We have to talk about Abu Azmi and people who are saying things like this on Facebook. The conversation goes away.
I think what would be nice is for the media’s resources and energy to be put into finding out what would happen if you report violence now in 2016, in 2015; how does the police respond; how does the court respond; How does the Home Minister respond or how did the last Home Minister respond.
It is a good opportunity to take cognisance of that and focus our energy in something useful – put out RTIs, put out petitions, ask questions on government, on police. I don’t see anything which is being done by police or by government in general – other than having extra cops. We need to ask, did you have sensitisation for people or cops? As part of media, generally our energy should be directed to how this plays out.