Sandhya Rani Would Not Have Lost Her Life, If We Took Stalking Seriously In This Country

Posted: December 23, 2017

Harassment at the workplace is horrible for anybody to go through, but what happens when this morphs into deadly stalking? Read here.

22-year-old Sandhya Rani, the youngest in her family, was set on fire by a colleague which resulted in her death on Friday (22/12/17) morning.

“Sandhya was returning home on Thursday evening when the accused came on a motorcycle and accosted her at the Lalaguda area of Hyderabad. The two, according to eyewitnesses, spoke for a few minutes.

During a heated argument, the attacker threw petrol on her, set her on fire and escaped before people could raise an alarm. According to the police, Karthik wanted Sandhya to quit her job, but she wasn’t willing to do so for the sake of her family.

Later, he surrendered to the police.” – as reported in The News Minute

We, as a society, seem to somehow consider the horrid crime of stalking as ‘nothing serious’ in our mindsets. The idea of a stranger following you or keeping an eye on you at all times isn’t unnerving enough for us, apparently. But what to do when this is done by somebody you know, somebody you see every day? Like in the above case, a colleague.

Workplace harassment has always been a hurdle for women to tackle in their professional spheres. Be it in the form of inappropriate advances, conversation or straight up blackmail. Here, we see another item added to the list: stalking. In Sandhya’s case, her colleague liked her and wanted to marry her but was sacked from his job soon, so he wanted to force Sandhya to leave her job too! He had been after her life for the past year. Isn’t it bad enough being harassed in the workplace already that women now have these people stalking them everywhere they go?

But this is not something new, the only thing that is new is the attention that it has started gaining. How do we expect women to grow and be equal contributors to society as men when they can’t even move from one place to another without receiving unwanted attention? There are laws that in place for countering sexual harassment at work, but the approach needs to become more inclusive of all the other types of issues that women employees go through. Not only the sexual harassment committees, but the police should also become more helpful towards cases of stalking. We have heard of many instances when they simply say that it isn’t a big deal and that the person is just overthinking. We have clearly seen how so many of the crimes that happen to women begin with stalking. This attitude cannot continue regarding a crime which is so insidious and affects a person emotionally and mentally, besides the exposure to physical danger.

It’s time to change our attitudes to stalking and realise the immense horror a victim goes through. It is also necessary to inculcate a culture of hearing out the grievances that an employee might have towards another employee and take them seriously, including helping the employee file an FIR if necessary. The idea that someone will hear you out is comforting and can help prevent gruesome crimes like the above if we are alert enough.

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18// New Delhi, India A literature student on the path of her identity. I like

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