Just two days after six persons were sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a law student, a shameful incident occurred in the heart of the City in broad daylight, which proves that Bangalore is still an unsafe place for women.
Tiyasha Mukherjee, a professional, was sexually assaulted in the City by three men on Museum Road near St Joseph’s Boys’ High School on Sunday afternoon. A shell-shocked Tiyasha narrated the bitter experience to Metrolife. “I was walking down Museum Road, near St Joseph’s Boys’ High School, when three men came on two bikes and stopped beside me. All three of them were flashers. One of them walked up right in front of me and flashed me.
To avoid him, I turned and there were two other men standing behind me doing the same thing. I tried to walk away, but they wouldn’t let me move an inch. Shocked, I cried for help but nobody came to my rescue. I screamed and I think that scared one of the flashers. When I saw him getting nervous, I ran with all my strength and got into the first auto that I got from the junction.
I phoned a friend, who advised me not to go home. My friend picked me up midway and dropped me home.” Tiyasha says there were no cops around the area, and she was too stunned to even take note of details or to register a complaint.
It’s not just Tiyasha who has gone through such a horrifying experience. Shobha, a housemaid at Malleswaram, shares that she too faces sexual harassment when she’s travelling by bus or whenever she’s at the market area in 8th Cross, Malleswaram. “Men have come and rubbed themselves against me and I’ve shouted back. Many a time, when the police was around, I’ve even asked for help or tried complaining. But they’ve advised me to take care of myself,” says Shobha.
She adds that incidents like these are common in buses, where men fall over women or touch them. Shobha says, “It’s shameful how insensitive men can be sometimes — there have been instances when I’ve scolded them and they too have shouted back at me saying that if I can’t endure all this, I should take an autorickshaw. When I’ve approached the bus conductors, most of them have always told me to come and stand in the front but never bothered to address the issue.”
Additional commissioner of police (crime) Pranab Mohanty points out that men who indulge in these kinds of sexual activities fall under the category of ‘Paraphilia’. He says that the offenders will be booked under the categories of eve teasing and molestation under sections 354 IPC (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
“We have launched measures such as a ‘women’s only’ patrolling van around a few sensitive areas in the City. We have also compiled a database of areas where single women and elderly women live. These include data collected from paying guest accommodations in the City. We have deputed our men in mufti around these areas,” explains Mohanty.
The police has issued guidelines for the safety of women at workplaces and bars, particularly with regard to pick up and drop facility. “We have taken all steps to popularise neighbourhood watch and community safety programmes by the police. We have always asked women to be alert about their surroundings,” he cautions.
KS Vimala, vice president of All India Democratic Women’s Association (Karnataka), says that the police has lots to do to make the City safer. She says, “Sensitisation of the police at all levels, starting from a constable to ranks above, is a necessity. Whenever an incident happens, the police should be open to accepting the situation as it is, rather than being prejudiced or mocking the victim.”
Vimala also says that there should be increased patrolling in the City. “Policemen in patrolling vehicles should also be trained and sensitised accordingly. Sensitive areas in the City should be identified and a stricter watch should be kept on the same,” she adds. “The police department should spread awareness about women’s safety via different mediums like hoardings, theatre and seminars,” says Vimala.