• Wake up Bengaluru! Why the silence on sexual harassment?

    The hub of start-ups Bengaluru is fast becoming a not-so-safe hub for women, as new cases keep cropping up every other day. On May 23rd, on the busy Koramangala road, a 34-year-old techie was caught misbehaving with a minor girl; consequently he was arrested by the police within two days of the incident. Three days later on May 26th, an unidentified person allegedly entered the victim’s house and touched her inappropriately.

    As disgusting as it sounds,, apparently the girl was resting on a sofa in the living room of her ground-floor accommodation and the culprit, by finding an opportunity through her open windows, reached out to her and touched her illegitimately while masturbating. Reportedly, the girl who hails from Andhra Pradesh woke up shockingly, was stunned seeing a half-naked man at the window and tried calling for help. But before someone could approach to her flat, the miscreant fled the building on a motorcycle.

    “The woman did note down a part of the bike’s registration number, which is of Hassan district’s RTO. She also told us that the bike was black in colour and had an auto start. She has also described him to us. He could be in his early twenties, was of thin build and had a wheatish complexion. We are checking CCTV footage obtained from nearby buildings to help us nab him,” an investigating officer told Bangalore Mirror. A case of sexual harassment under Section 354(A) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at the Koramangala police.

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    When we asked Donna Fernandes, who works for Vimochana, a women’s organization in Bangalore , she had this to say, “The news item is disgusting and scary. Men are getting so brazen and bold because they know they can get away with murder. Society’s double standards, its selective condemnation of violence on women, police indifference and societal prejudices all add up to public and private spaces becoming increasingly unsafe. Crocodile tears just won’t do!” 

    She makes a valid point. After all, this isn’t the first time a girl was sexually harassed in broad daylight.

    Let’s go backward… Back in 2012, a teacher of a school in Bengaluru was booked for alleged sexual harassment of his girl students. In 2013, two men allegedly sexually harassed a college girl by passing lewd comments onboard the Metro Rail. The following year, a 28-year-old senior software engineer registered a sexual harassment case against three senior staffers of Samsung R&D Institute, Bengaluru.

    This year on May 23, a 17-year-old girl was accosted by a half-naked man who stopped the car next to her, then allegedly misbehaved and asked her if she would perform oral sex . Similarly, Bengaluru girl Aishwarya Subramanian was slut shamed by an auto rickshaw driver for wearing a short dress. In another incident, a girl was racially abused by an auto driver, cursed for being from the north-east and asked to go back to her state.

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    Research suggests that Four out of five women in India have faced public harassment ( Picture Credit: Reuters)

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    Let’s do some facts check:

    • Azim Premji University (APU) has recorded the highest number of sexual harassment cases (with seven incidents) in higher education institutions in Karnataka between April 2014 and March 2015.
    • Five universities in Karnataka — APU, IISc, Manipal University, Bangalore University and Karnatak University had reported 16 cases during this period.
    • A survey ‘Sexual Harassment at Workplaces in India 2011-2012′ done by Oxfam India, conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Durgapur and covered 400 working women, says, 17% of working women in major cities face sexual harassment at the work place.
    • According to the National Family Health Survey 2005-2006, 30% of women  experience sexual violence, though only 1% of them actually proceed to report it.

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    It’s obvious the problem isn’t limited to Bengaluru. But the fact remains that the spate of incidents are increasing in number and getting more frequent. The question begs to be answered, what will it take to get the administration to react?

    Feature Image Credit: Hindustantimes.com