Mahin Siddiki—TDO – A Bangalore newspaper has published pictures of women crying, hugging policewomen and complaining of being groped by men in a mass molestation incident during the New Year’s celebrations in Bangalore’s central business district.
Karnataka Home State Minister, G. Parameshwara, has made matters worse by saying that “these things do happen”. He has said that because the youngsters try to copy Western dressing and mindset, women get sexually assaulted, groped and raped. His comments comply with the patriarchal mindset in India, and rape culture, whereby women are blamed for being raped. This wrongfully takes away blame from the perpetrators and further stigmatizes women. Indeed, in India, only 1% of women complain to the police about being sexually assaulted or raped, according to Amnesty International, due to the social stigma of being a rape victim.
Parameshwara’s comments have caused an uproar and outrage amongst women’s and humanitarian organizations in India.
Police in Bangalore have said that despite deploying 1,500 police officers in Bangalore for the New Year’s event, they were overwhelmed. Crowds were two to three times more than what was expected, as reported by a photographer from the Bangalore Mirror. From 2345 till 0030, the crowd was so heavy, that no one could move, and once the crowd let up, people saw several women come out crying and complaining of having been groped by the men surrounding them.
Another photographer, ChaitaliWasnickalso posted on Facebook about being groped. She said of her molester: “With so much ease he did [it] as if he thought I’ll not utter a word”. She further said that the police didn’t do anything, despite having seen her fight off her attacker.
Bangalore Police Commissioner, Praveen Sood, had said that all the camera footage from the event would be analyzed and had requested journalists and citizens who had any footage of the incident to come forward, in order to help detain the attackers.
However, after having analyzed around 70 CCTV cameras around the area, MrSood has recently released reports regarding the New Year’s event. He has said that the police haven’t found any evidence of a mass molestation occurring.
He said that it was likely that the women were crying due to fear and panic since the police were charging the crowd with batons in order to disperse the crowd. MrSood has said that the media apparently misunderstood everything in the confusion of the moment, and said that the women were molested.
He further added that despite making a public appeal to everyone, no women had come forward to make a formal complaint about being assaulted and molested. However, MrSood’s comments just further reflects on the general reluctance of women making official complaints of rape and other kinds of assault in India due to the social stigma attached.
MrSood has said however, that the individual complaints made by women to different media outlets will be further investigated. They will be taken as complaints. If the attackers are recognized and detained, they will be rightly punished.
However, it is hard for the police to do anything without women coming forward and helping them. Furthermore, it is hard for the women themselves to identify their molesters because of the huge number of crowd that was present that night.