On Sunday afternoon, on an isolated road next to a busy railway station in Vishakapatnam, humanity died: People walked past a mentally ill homeless woman being raped by a drunk man, and no one stopped him.
According to the police, an auto driver who was on the road took a video of the incident and reported it to the police.
The graphic clip shows a man wearing a blue shirt and jeans raping a woman on the footpath of a road in Vizag. The clip shows the man behind a tree, committing the crime, even as a passerby walks past. No one comes forward to help the survivor, despite the rape occurring in broad daylight and just by the main road.
The accused has been identified as Ganji Siva, a 20-year-old history sheeter. Siva was arrested by the police on Sunday evening. The survivor is a mentally ill homeless woman, the police said.
Speaking to TNM, ADCP (SB & Security), PV Ravikumar said, “While the area where the incident happened is close to the railway station, the particular road is quite isolated. Both the victim and the accused are homeless, and he was drunk." The incident took place on Sunday around 1pm, and the accused was arrested later in the day.
"The auto driver who shot the video did not know how to react, and came to the police station with the video. On the basis of this evidence, we have arrested Ganji Siva," Ravikumar added.
The survivor is currently in hospital undergoing treatment for her injuries.
In many cases accidents and crimes, bystanders simply stand around or walk past, without helping the victims in any way. This was seen in several high profile cases, including the Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya) rape case in Delhi, in the Swathi murder in broad daylight in Chennai's Nungambakkam etc.
The reasons why people don't react are many: In crowded places, people may feel that someone else will intervene and their help is not necessary. In isolated places, people may feel scared of getting caught in legal hassles. Or, they may be afraid of facing violence themselves.
While TNM does not advice anyone to get in the middle of a violent situation that may harm them, but bystanders can do many things to help the victims.
Here are some Dos and Don'ts for a good bystander:
Intervene directly. Confront the harasser or abuser about what you witnessed, if it is safe to do so.
Distract the abuser. Have you watched the Bell Bajao campaign? Break the moment. Give the victim a chance to escape, or make a phone call. Let the abuser know that you know, without directly saying so.
Delegate the task of speaking to the abuser to someone you trust. If it is a colleague, ask a trusted senior to warn them about their behaviour. If it’s a cousin, speak to a relative who can confront them.
Approach the abuser as a group. If you witness someone being harassed in public and are afraid to speak out alone, ask the others around you to speak up as well.
Respond after the incident. If you couldn’t do anything while it happened, at least check on the victim afterwards. Ask her if she’s okay, and if you can do something now. If you witness a violent attack, try to take photos of the attacker as he walks away. Call an ambulance if needed.
Do not intervene if your personal safety is at risk. Do not try to break up a violent fight unless you’re a trained responder. Do not try to personally tackle an a violent attacker with a weapon.
Do not involve the police if the victim does not want you to do so. If she is not ready to walk out, reason with her about why staying might not be a good idea. Do not take decisions for her.
Do not tolerate or dismiss violence as trivial. Do not tell the victim that her suffering is no big deal, or that she should ignore it.
Do not ignore an incident of gender violence, however small or big. Do not walk away as if nothing happened.