Every time we hear of heinous acts of crime against women across the country, it shakes our faith in the system. What do we do about it? What do we do when we see a girl in trouble? What do we do when we see a man harassing a girl in public? We just walk away thinking that we shouldn’t invite unnecessary trouble. Or we become angry and take it all out on social media. However, we fail to realise, the change starts with us.
I come from a state, which claims to be 100% literate (Kerala). It’s the same place where a girl has a higher chance of being molested in a bus than reaching her destination. The co-passengers either blame the girl or pretend not to exist. The same folks come on the social media to outrage and abuse courts for giving light punishment to a rapist (Soumya case).
Some even went to the extent of saying that,“The rapist should be handed over to the public,” I asked then, and ask the same now – “What will you do?”
On a breezy evening, I was walking to the bus stop after work. I stopped for hot tea on the way. A girl with a car that had CH (Chandigarh) registration was reversing and accidentally grazed against a bike that belonged to some local guys. They started hurling abuses at the girl. Shapologiseded several times for the mishap, as it hadn’t caused much damage. When she was about to leave, one of the men tried to snatch the key from the car. They surrounded her and didn’t let her leave. She felt so helpless and scared. She called up her husband. He came in no time.
When he came over, they got into an argument with him and even went to the extent of becoming physically abusive. That’s when I realised that it’s time to do something. I called up the ACP of Traffic, East, Unfortunately, he was out of town. I immediately informed the DCP of Traffic East and the DCP East. The police came in no time.
The local group became calm and silent once the police arrived. I decided to step in and explained the situation. The locals demanded them to pay compensation for the damage, to which I strongly objected. I insisted on taking the matter to the police station. We went to the police station to settle the matter. The local group had already informed their friends who were waiting for us in the station.
There were in the majority, we were clearly outnumbered. I neither come from a political background nor have any connections. I decided to stand my ground with the little bit of knowledge I had about the law. They were stubborn and arrogant in demanding money. To this, I contradicted them by saying that they had forcibly stopped her from leaving which was punishable under IPC’s Section 339 (wrongful restraint) and 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman).
The police officers were friendly nice and though, I told them that these guys tried to assault the girl, it’s a criminal offence.
I didn’t get involved earlier to stop them by force because I am not Salman Khan to beat those goons, so I waited for the cops to arrive. I did what anyone responsible should do, fight for the issue in the right way. I feel proud and happy about what I did. If something similar happens, I will do the same.