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Behind the statistics and the news items we read, there is a woman who has probably suffered way too long before being killed. And what is tragic is that these deaths are entirely preventable.
Trigger Warning: This deals with graphic description of stalking, violence against women, murder, and suicide, and may be triggering to survivors.
A 23 year old stalker named Satish murdered Sathya, a college girl in Chennai, leaving the city shocked.
As per news sources, the girl has tried to lodge a police complaint on 2 occasions against Satish, but due to the influence of his parents who are in the police force, no action was taken against him.
The father of the girl has also reportedly died of suicide after hearing the news.
The news sent a chill down my spine as I was stalked by a college senior for 7 long years. He eventually joined the same company where I worked. Despite rejecting his advances, he never stopped harassing me until my wedding.
He even turned up at my workplace lobby at 6 AM, knowing that I was working the early morning shift. I still remember how my palms turned cold and sweaty once I spotted him. I quickly made my way up into a more protected area where only employees with access permissions could go in. I was having palpitations and was close to a nervous breakdown.
As I was discussing with my friends on what to do about the situation, one of them suggested that I complain to HR about the harassment. It was immediately discouraged by a male colleague who asked me not to “spoil his career”, while also warning me that complaining could spur him on to do something more serious against me.
Girls who are harassed don’t feel confident enough to open up to their families about it. They fear that it will impact their freedom, access to education, and mobility. This is not without reason, as Indian parents believe that restricting their girls is the only way to keep them away from harassers.
We are also notorious for victim blaming and character assassination. We immediately police the girl about what dress she wears, if she ever led him on to stalk her, and question her about why she was the only one to be harassed. How can women muster the courage to complain against harassers if they are blamed by their own families?
What is deeply disturbing in this specific case is how despite taking all the right steps against her harasser, Sathya was tragically murdered. It would not be far-fetched to say that the police authorities who did not lodge her complaint have a part to play in her murder.
The stalker Satish’s parents knew of the impact that an FIR would have on his life, and actively conspired with authorities to avoid legal action, eventually costing Sathya her life.
It is infuriating how such men don’t face any repercussions for their harassment from the first instance. Women are asked to ignore them, or worse – even sympathize with them, as I was asked to. Why are we bothered about protecting the careers or names of these criminals? Is a woman’s life and right to live without fear not important enough?
We ask girls to ignore their stalkers and hide away from them, hoping that these men will eventually leave them alone. But not once do we approach stalking as a criminal offense – which is exactly what it is.
Indian movies have romanticized stalking for ages, and even glorified a stalker as a “devoted lover”.
Such movies even go as far as to show the woman eventually falling for her harasser, portraying it as a normal way to win a woman’s heart. Why don’t we see the woman turn around, give one tight slap to the “hero” and threaten him with the specific IPC sections he will be charged with? Now THAT would be a scene that all women will give a standing ovation for!
Cancel culture is at its peak, and every week we see how movies are “boycotted” mostly for “hurting religious sentiments”. Instead of channelizing our efforts into such useless efforts, we must instead make it a norm to boycott senseless movies that portray a criminal offense as romantic. It’s 2022, and it’s time to do away with regressive rubbish that trivializes a woman’s consent.
This is not the first instance when a stalker eventually turned out to be a murderer. In 2016, 24-year-old techie Swathi was murdered by her stalker in a Chennai railway station in broad daylight.
In 2021, another 20-year-old Chennai college student was murdered by her stalker.
In our country, 9285 cases of stalking were recorded in 2021, according to NCRB data.
These figures reflect only about 50% of the actual numbers. Many women suffer silently, without support from family or the law. At the root of this problem is our disrespect for a woman’s agency. We do not believe a woman has the right to say NO.
One more woman has been murdered because the male ego couldn’t take no for an answer. One more woman has been betrayed by the police force.
Behind the statistics and the news items we read, there is a woman who has probably suffered way too long before being killed. And what is tragic is that these deaths are entirely preventable. If only we take her safety seriously enough. If only we outrage enough against harassers. If only we demand stringent action against even a single instance of stalking. If we evolve into a nation that respects women enough to see stalking for what it is – a criminal offence.
The only way this can be achieved if air-tight laws are made against stalking. We need reforms made to our systems to ensure no case of stalking goes unreported. We need to remind men of the punishment that WILL await them if they dare to infringe on the right to a woman’s safety.
If I can have only one wish – I wish for a day when the girls and women of our country can walk without the fear of being harassed. Our women deserve to live their lives without the fear of being murdered for just saying NO.
Did you know that there is a way to report stalking without approaching the police station? The NCW has launched a helpline for women from any part of India to report stalking.
If in Delhi, call 1096. The women in the rest of the country can dial 0111-23219750 to contact the NCW.
If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080-25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
SPEAK2us – Tamilnadu 9375493754
An engineer turned SAHM of two who wants to be known beyond that. Passionate about words, parenting, making eco-friendly choices, feminism and lifelong learning. read more...
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Ms. Kulkarni, please don’t apologise ‘IF’ you think you hurt women. Apologise because you got your facts wrong. Apologise for making sexual harassment a casual joke.
If Sonali Kulkarni’s speech on most modern Indian women being lazy left me shocked and enraged, her apology post left me deeply saddened.
I’d shared my thoughts on her problematic speech in an earlier article. So, I’ll share why I felt Kulkarni’s apology post was more damaging than her speech.
If her speech made her an overnight hero among MRAs, sexists, and people who were awed by her dramatic words, then her apology post made her a legendary saint.
There are many mountains I need to climb just to be, just to live my life, just to have my say... because they are mountains you've built to oppress women.
Trigger Warning: This deals with various kinds of violence against women including rape, and may be triggering for survivors.
I haven’t climbed a literal mountain yet
Was busy with the metaphorical ones – born a woman
Fighting for the air that should have come free
And I am one of the privileged ones, I realize that
Yet, if I get passionate, just like you do
I will pay for it – with burden, shame, – and possibly a life to carry
So, my mountains are the laws you overturn
My mountains are the empty shelves where there should have been pills
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