The beginning of this year was an end to Bengaluru’s guise as one of the safest cities for women in India. In a short span of time, the Silicon Valley of India was compared with the most dangerous cities for women, social media was expeditious to castigate Bengaluru with “#NightOfShame”, “#ShameBangalore”, “#ShameKarnataka”. The mass molestation in the presence of 1,500 policemen was top-notch news for national and international media while the voyeuristic incidents towards women on a regular basis in the city have failed to grab eyeballs. In fact, Bangalore was in the history for its misogyny towards before the mass molestation.
In the past, Bengaluru has witnessed many dreadful acts, unfortunately, the four pillars of our democracy in the city were effortless to stop the prejudiced men. Just before the New Year molestation, India Today’s Deputy Editor Rohini Swamy was beaten up during Cauvery water-sharing dispute in a civilized residential area by a pro-Kannada organization activist. If a renowned journalist’s safety is a matter of concern, what is the state of women in the remote parts of the city?
Bengaluru tops the list of most crimes against women in Karnataka. As per the figures released by Karnataka State Police, nearly 17,792 cases were booked for dowry, harassment, and violence. In fact, 27% of the total criminal cases were women related. Other than the chunks of crime records against local women, a 21-year-old Tanzanian student was assaulted in the outskirts of the city. She was beaten up, stripped in the presence of police. Later when she managed to get on a bus, she was pushed out by the passengers.
A Bangalore-based women’s rights organization, along with the Association of Women’s Group Sisters for Change has revealed shocking details about the state of women in the city. As per the survey in 1,200 garment factories across the city, one in seven women working in the textile industry is either raped or forced into a sexual act. Unwanted sexual attention and violence are common in their lives, 82% of the women in the textile industry remain quite as they have no faith in the police.
While the media was reporting the horrific incident of mass molestation, ‘Kannada-bhakts’ in social media defended the molesters and blamed women for wearing western clothes. Most of the locals, Troll and Bhakt handles said “‘Kandle Kaayi Parishe” (Groundnut Carnival), ‘Karaga’ (a religious fair) and many other religious processions are held at night with lakhs of people. Why don’t molestations occur during these events? Outsiders are responsible for spoiling our city, our city is in the clutches of western culture.” Did they forget that in 2014 a six-year-old girl was allegedly raped in Vibgyor High School by teachers of their own city?
I spoke to few residents of Kammanahalli – place where the footage of men seen attempting to molest the women. “The ministers of our present and previous governments were caught in assembly watching pornography and sex scandals. They themselves are skirt-chasers. How could they enact steady laws for the protection of women in the city?” said a 58-year-old man. The father of our nation had said: “India will be free when the women feel safe to walk in the streets of India in the midnight,” almost 70 years of Independence we are yet to witness Mahatma Gandhi’s glorious day.