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How The Police Arrested The Guy Who Masturbated At Us, Within Hours Of My Viral Post

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Two days ago, I posted an article on this very platform about how a guy masturbated at me and my friend at CST Mumbai, and how the police havaldar I went to for help just walked away from the scene.

Since then, things have been wild.

After the first Times of India article was shared, an inspector messaged me on Facebook asking me to contact him – which I did. He asked me for details and the description of the perpetrator while he scanned through the CCTV footage. He asked me to file an FIR and walked me through the entire process of lodging a formal complaint via email. We exchanged at least 25 calls yesterday. I also got a chance to speak to the ACP, who was extremely cooperative and patient throughout the process. Within six to seven hours of the start of the investigation, a photo of the guy was sent to me and I was asked to identify him.

The perpetrator was arrested within 24 hours of my article being shared on Facebook.

I was amazed. Oh, did I mention that I also spoke to the Commissioner of Railway Police Force, Mumbai? That’s right- he called me! Only after I spoke to him did I actually feel a little reassured that things were on the right track and that I had done the right thing. I must appreciate how the situation was handled by the officials. Hats off, RPF!

Justice was mine, no doubt. However, in the meantime, the story had also been picked up by Loksatta, Vagabomb, Storypick, Firstpost, and also Hindustan Times.

This video went completely and organically viral. I’m talking about 1 million views and 9000+ shares on Facebook. Those are some huge numbers if you consider the fact that I’m not famous, a celebrity or a journalist.

This is when things got really intense. I was called to the studio by a Marathi news channel, ABP Mazha. It was a very last minute call, but I somehow made it to the studio on time – and I was LIVE on TV with them for about 10 minutes.

As soon as this was done, messages from across the country started pouring in, along with friend requests (duh). I had to make my Instagram account private. All of these strangers who had watched me on TV hunted me down and followed me and I wasn’t comfortable with that.

At 8 PM, they replayed the interview with the update that the guy has been arrested. The journalist repeatedly asked the police officer on call what the name of the officer in the video was, but they wouldn’t give it away. We get it – you protect your own. Why didn’t you protect me then?

Meanwhile, The Quint did an article. Times of India did a follow-up article, as did Firstpost.

Others who featured articles on this include The Hindu, India Times, Samaa TV (Pakistan), Midday Print, Times of India Print, and many more.

The news has been everywhere, as far as I know. I have watched it on CNN News-18, Times NOW – and Aaj Tak, TV9, Times Now, among many others, have contacted me for an interview. However, I need time to recover from the amount of attention and phone calls I’ve been getting.

I don’t understand one thing, though. Why does an issue have to go viral for it to get so much attention? Why is there action taken only after national and international media put pressure on the concerned people? Why can’t an individual receive justice in the first try itself without having to reveal her/ his identity to the world and jeopardizing their privacy? The fact that it isn’t happening is a failure of the system- one that isn’t forgivable. Our booming population and high crime rate have desensitised all of us towards each other and each other’s problems. Will this change? I don’t know. Is it worth a try? Of course!

When a particular thing goes viral on social media, there are various kinds of responses that you receive. There have been messages coming in from all over the world telling me how brave I was to shoot the video and upload it, how I had the presence of mind to do that and that I did the right thing by doing this. Most of these messages have come from men, which was extremely reassuring. Women have called me and shared harrowing incidents of similar things happening to them. But, they always followed up with – “We never thought of reporting it, we just ignored it.” I can imagine why they wouldn’t want to speak up. Not all responses have been positive.

Here are a few comments and messages I’ve received in response to my post, all from men:

“Why are you shamelessly begging for sympathy? Your job is to report it to the police, and that’s it. Ridiculous.”

“Why did you shoot the video? To upload it to a porn site?”

“Why didn’t you just attack him? Why stand there and record the incident?”

“There is no need for that disgusting scene to be shown. Why didn’t you delete it?”

“Did you masturbate while looking at the guy and taking his video?”

“Think the reverse, how the media and feminists would react if a boy take a video of a girl musterbating” (Please note the spelling)

“This is just a publicity stunt. Girls will do anything for sympathy and attention nowadays.”

“I think someone disturbed his privacy.”

Each of these men’s words and actions – and each woman’s silence – contributes actively to the growth and encouragement of instances like these. Each of you has a voice – you just need to understand how to use it and for what cause. Do not feel afraid to speak up. There are people willing to support you if you show the courage to stand up for yourself. You are not alone – there’s always someone who has been through something similar, and they will stand by you. Some people care.

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Image Source: Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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