Callous attitude & sexual assault on women
There seems to be little good news regarding the safety and security of women in this country. Busting the myth that women from a certain section of society are more vulnerable to misogynist and sexist attacks, or that stereotypically independent and self-sufficient women are immune from such misgivings, the condemnable case of stalking that happened in Chandigarh recently only establishes that irrespective of a woman's conduct at any hour of the day, she is vulnerable to reckless whims of random men just because she exists. A local court Thursday sent the son of Haryana BJP chief and his friend to police custody for two days. Both will again be produced in court on August 12. The two accused are facing charges of stalking, wrongful restraint and abduction attempt on a senior Haryana IAS officer's daughter.
Defence counsel pleaded that "neither any kidnapping nor any molestation or any other offence was committed" and they are just subjected to media trial blown out of proportion. The defence counsel added that there was nothing to be recovered from the accused as no weapons were used in the crime and thus police custody was not required. So far, the course of discussion proceeds in a manner that suggests that since no physical harm was done, not was it intended as no weapons were recovered, the accused were pleaded 'not guilty'. Although the case is still under process, this entire attitude points to the notion that harm is only when it is physical or visible. This outlook does not count any trauma caused to a woman from harassment she may be subjected to for no good reason. That is to say that unless she is physically harmed, or about to be harmed, she will not be considered hurt.
It must be acknowledged that safety of women refers to providing a secure environment whereby women are free to express themselves and just be without any fear of getting sexually victimised in any manner. The woman stalked in the cited case from Chandigarh is a DJ by profession who was just driving back when the two accused began following her car recklessly. More CCTV footage shows that they had purchased alcohol a while before and were driving under the influence of alcohol. The accused refused to give their blood and urine sample for the investigation, firming doubts about them being possibly drunk and adding more complication to the case. Shortly after this case in Chandigarh, a 22-year old IT executive in Gurugram was stalked in a similar manner when she was making her way home on her scooter, was reportedly chased for three kilometres by two men in a car. The men also reportedly passed lewd comments. This incident took place around 11:45 pm when the victim was headed home on her scooter. The men attempted to stop her twice but she escaped by getting into a narrow lane. Official data on the number of stalking cases across the country in the last three years puts Delhi in the second position, the first being a much bigger and populous State of Maharashtra. And then there are instances of continuous stalking or lack of police action in such cases that have ended in one or more deaths.
Early last year, some stalkers forcibly entered the house of a minor girl in Gandhi Nagar and raped and murdered her. They even tried to burn her body. A few months later, a woman in Inderpuri was murdered by a man who had been stalking her. Her family alleged that they had lodged a complaint, which the police ignored. Till June this year, 259 cases of stalking had been registered in the city under Section 354(D) of the IPC. The numbers in 2015 and 2016 were 1,128 and 835, respectively. The callous attitude to allegations of sexual assault isn't limited to local Indian police authorities.
There happens to exist an aweful thing called 'geri culture' rampant in university campuses in Chandigarh. 'Geri culture' of the campus is the phenomenon of young men driving expensive cars blaring loud music on campus, especially around women's hostels. Though 'stalking culture' or 'show off culture' are more appropriate labels, this phenomenon is likely to give the impression of a wealthy, ostentatious and frivolous student population. Such malpractices find space only because it is ingrained in the psyche of people and society at large that women are vulnerable and can be victimised by men. This is a terrible and dangerous patriarchal notion that not only degrades women but also stereotypes men and paints all of them in a same wrong colour. This is essentially a social anomaly that must be addressed to uplift and secure women in our society. ddressed to uplift and secure women in our society.
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