“She should have called 100”, screamed the television news anchor as she narrated Mr Mohammad Ali’s bizarre statement about a gangrape case in Hyderabad. He is Telangana’s Home Minister.
Well, it was 9.45 pm and dark. Her scooty’s tyre was flat on a deserted road. She wanted to let her sister know. Maybe she didn’t expect to be haunted by four men in their twenties. Maybe she didn’t expect to be the next hashtag trending on Twitter. Maybe she didn’t expect news anchors to shout her name out. Maybe she didn’t expect her state’s minister to blame her. And trust me, even Nirbhaya didn’t expect to be a name that reverberated in every household after December 2012, as she tried to return home after a beautiful evening.
The minor in the Kathua case didn’t expect to be viral on Twitter, as she let her horses graze on a sunny winter day. To be honest, no woman steps out expecting the worst. We are taught to be prepared with pepper sprays, self-defence techniques, and emergency numbers on speed dial. But, seriously, no one expects their name to be in the next trending hashtag on Twitter.
Many women are taking to social media to narrate their stories of being groped, molested and jeered at. It’s a scary world! Maybe they don’t want to call 100 because they aren’t expecting the worst.
The Hyderabad story had my blood boiling. But I feel helpless. This is the second brutal gangrape case I have read about in a week. The first one in Jharkhand! And what about those that go unreported in the media? What about the tribal women, or those from the so-called lower castes, who are abused and raped by those in powerful positions?
If only hashtags could solve the problem. No, no…I don’t want to sound cynical here. Nor do I want to seem impatient. But it’s been seven years since Delhi’s Nirbhaya. We took on to the streets, created a social media revolution, protested, and faced water canons. But what has been the result? According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s, Crime in India Report 2017, 3.5 lakh cases were reported as violence against women. It’s a jump from 3.38 lakh cases in 2015. And this violence includes murder, rape, dowry death, suicide abetment, acid attack, cruelty against women and kidnapping.
As I write, I am reminded of the numerous social media campaigns depicting violence against women. Has this recent case set us back to square one? Has our society gone back to where it all started?