Marginalised in their own land

My dress is not a yes’, ‘my voice is louder than my dress’, ‘ignore my lipstick and listen to what I say’ – these are probably one of the many lines written by young women on placards during the protest against the December 16 gang rape case of 2012. But, even after all these protests, candle light marches and demonstrations held by the young people in the City, the mindset remains the same.

Unbridled, the perverts continue to roam freely on the streets of Delhi and the condition of young women remains the same. According to a recent survey conducted by Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia, and commissioned by National Commission for Women, 81 per cent of northeast women are harassed in Delhi. Bangalore followed by 60 per cent.

Amongst them, 23 per cent of respondents said they have been harassed by landlords and 42 per cent said they faced verbal abuse. A total of 26 per cent reported heckling and molestation. Alarmingly, there seems to be little trust in police as 80 per cent of those who were harassed did not approach them.

Alana Golmei, founding member of Northeast Support Centre and Helpline shared her thoughts on this issue. “First of all our ‘mongoloid face’ structure is one of the major issues which results in racial discrimination. People think that northeasterners can be cheated easily and can be taken for granted. They think that NE girls are all ‘loose characters’, they have a ‘dirty life’ and their smile is a sign of inviting people. And then people say that they don’t talk to others, they prefer to be in their own groups, but if the situation is such, whom to trust?”

The centre runs two helpline numbers 8860956209 and 9999397620 and gives assistance to harassed NE people. Another ‘harassed’ young woman Shanya Shirak from Manipur reiterated what Alana said. “I have been harassed a thousand times. Eve teasing, hearing lewd comments are quite common for us. And except ignoring it we are left with not much option because if we reply, those guys even enjoy more. Even my friends have many horrifying experiences like people throwing things on them from their terrace. And hearing words like ‘Chinese’ and ‘Chinki’ are very common now. The only difference we have is our distinctive features, other than that we are also Indians.”

The survey also stated that the total number of northeastern migrants to various parts of India has increased from 0.4 million in 1981 to 1.1 million in 2001 and the major destinations for them are Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. And between 2005 and 2010, over 4, 14, 850 from the region migrated and Delhi was the most preferred destination with over 2 lakh migrants.

Robin Hibu, Joint Commissioner of Police, training and recruitment and nodal officer for northeast people in Delhi, said, “We have initiated a standing order procedure (SOP) based on zero tolerance policy for the safety and security of NE students and others residing in Delhi. We have also nominated five activists from each of the eight NE states who have been given training by us to handle any kind of situation related to NE people in the City. They are normal people with no political background. It will be like a part-time job for them. They will be given an I-card so that they can walk anywhere for any assistance and we are also monitoring all the past cases.”

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