The two sisters from Rohtak, took on eve teasers in the bus head on, but others seated in it, remained indifferent witnesses. What is the psyche behind such indifferent behavior?

Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Vinita Deshmukh With eve teasing and sexual assaults on the rise, it is time that women do not take such a crime, lying down. And that’s exactly what the two sisters of Rohtak demonstrated in a public bus last week. They took on the three eve teasers who were passing snide remarks and threatening them of physical assaults, by beating them with belts and their fists. They also showed presence of mind by asking a female passenger to video record the scenario. On Sunday evening, several News TV channels showed the story and the most agonizing part of it were the passengers in the bus, all of who, sat mutely, as if nothing had happened. The two sisters were left to themselves to take on the goons, not only while they were in the bus, but also after they alighted from it. What was noteworthy, was, that their father, who came on the TV channel, stating he was proud of his two daughters and have always encourage them, not to take any sexual harassment, lying down. However largely, we are a country of selfish individuals, who cannot see beyond ourselves. Particularly, when it comes to going beyond one’s duty to help others, most Indians seem to have a mind block. How many times have you heard of accident victims lying on the road and vehicles speeding away, reluctant to help? Good Samaritans taking on eve teasers but not supported by people around? A woman or man being beaten in public but either a crowd gathers to watch the drama or passersby simply pass by? So, what makes us indifferent and callous? The root cause is non-governance, when it comes to issues like law enforcement that affects the common man. Hence, it is the fear within people that, if they go out of their way to help a victim, they would be caught in the whirlpool of making rounds to the police station or the courts. They are afraid of police harassment that would throw their mental peace and daily routine, out of gear. Such stories of police harassment keep doing rounds in homes and parties, as gossip and rumours, over generations and so most of us are psyched into this conditioning of staying away from performing the duty of a Good Samaritan. The political or the administrative class has not helped either through awareness or through showcasing cases of citizens being appreciated for helping victims. They have never come out to be interactive about encouragement to help victims. Besides the fear of a police constable at your door, if you help, media too has lopsided approach of highlighting negative stories of police harassment without taking the opportunities of using such stories to campaign through news columns to set the flaw, right. Nor do editors prod crime reporters to search for positive stories where citizens have supported police through aid to victims or any other manner and the police have responded positively. You will occasionally read mundane stories of police-citizen neighbourhood cells but with no sustained pro-active activity. Probably, in most cases police do not harass Good Samaritans but most of us are not aware. Also, why is it that the law enforcing authorities on their own are not alert about being stern with eve teasers and other criminals? How do they let go off them with some minor Sections under the IPC so that they come back to the society to create social menace and crimes? People therefore have begun asking as to why is it that citizens are only made accountable and not those who being paid for their jobs. This is not to conclude that people are right in their indifferent attitude. The fact is, if most of the passengers had supported the two sisters, the goons would have known that they are in the minority and the police would have taken their complaint more seriously. United, we stand; divided, we fall. We need play the roles of Good Samaritans nevertheless and support and fight for Good Samaritans if there is harassment to them later on. It is easy; just try it. (Vinita Deshmukh is a Pune based senior journalist and RTI activist)

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