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An Indian girl was allegedly molested on a flight



India’s image in the world is synonymous with the Taj Mahal, the snake charmers and sexual violence. It is nothing new to hear of another incident of harassment, as it is common knowledge that the women in India are regularly subjected to inappropriate touching, sexual harassment, eve teasing and rape.

Recently, on January 27, 2015, an Indian girl was travelling on a domestic flight from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar, when an older man allegedly harassed her. Many women like me who often have to travel alone can relate to this incident. It is nothing out of the ordinary in India. What is extraordinary though is this woman’s courage. In a statement issued by the girl she says that she was too shocked to react. But when the man tried molesting her a second time, she decided to do something about it.

She spoke out. The silence has been broken and her video has gone viral. This anonymous girl shamed the man by filming him and releasing the video on social networks.

The first video shows an embarrassed pot-bellied businessman covering his face with his hands with the molested woman yelling a justified question “You are asking for forgiveness?” she asks, “Why? Because I am a girl and you have the right to touch me anytime, anywhere you want to?”

Because I am a girl

This video brings a sensational twist to the debate about sexual violence in India, and many across the world are sharing this video. Women are reveling in a sense of pride because the alleged victim stood up and shamed her oppressor. She is being applauded for her quick thinking and bravery. This woman chose not to be silent because that would have been a bigger crime. She lodged a police complaint upon landing in Bhubaneswar Airport against her fellow passenger who is a rich businessman.

I am not sure myself that if I were put in a similar situation, I would have had the presence of mind to pull out my phone and record the incident. And even if I did, I am not sure if I would have gone this far by making the video public on social media. Because that would make me a bully, wouldn’t it? Because that is exactly what boys do when they rape a woman, they film the incident, shame the woman and circulate it around as a trophy.

A big mistake

In her second video, which she filmed at the airport, Ravin is apologizing for his inappropriate behavior. “Everybody makes mistakes in life. I made a mistake, a big mistake.” He further adds that he himself is the father of a girl.

The incident is not isolated, and I ask myself again if this is the only means to an end. What does this reflect about a society where women have lost all faith in the judiciary and have to resort to mob-lynching to get justice? Even in high profile cases such as that of former Tehelka Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal the trial is yet to begin after a year. Does this mean that we now become bullies and take justice in our own hands? Is shaming really a solution to the problem of harassment?

A few months back, a similar incident took the social media by storm. Pooja and Arti, two sisters from Rohtak in the state of Haryana uploaded a series of videos each time they were allegedly harassed. They were celebrated like heroes at first, and then they were subjected to a narcoanalysis test to prove that their version was true. Now they are being tagged as “serial thrashers”.

In a recent press conference they stated that they are being subjected to scrutiny because they filed a case against boys belonging to an upper-caste.

The truth be told

In a country where men already have a higher ranking than women, adding the equation of an upper caste or connections to a political family or a heavy bank account, justice often tilts in their favor.

Now, Ravin, the accused, has had time to contemplate his further plan of action. The man who appears visibly embarrassed and is repeatedly apologizing in the video has completely turned the story around. In his defense, he told Times of India, a leading daily, in an interview that he had no intention of misbehaving with his fellow passenger. “She is making a mountain out of a molehill … I am going to file a defamation suit against her for tarnishing my image in social media.”

No one knows what to believe anymore. The sad part is that this incident will soon be forgotten because the way it is being dealt with offers no concrete solution to women. So the chances are that harassment will continue and rich, upper-caste men will hire an army of lawyers not only to get away scot-free, but they will also successfully re-place the blame on the woman.

Author: Roma Rajpal Weiß

Editor: Marjory Linardy

Roma Rajpal Weiß is an Indian journalist & Blogger based in Bonn. She can be followed @romarajpal.




10.02.2015 | 13:54