A series of five seemingly unconnected incidents where single women have been randomly targeted for harassment and intimidation in upmarket locations in Bangalore since February 15 this year has given rise to a fledgling movement called Nirbhaya Karnataka intended to get police and local authorities to enable women to live fearlessly.
On Saturday,around 10:30 pm,a journalist was punched by two unidentified persons on a two wheeler while she was boarding an autorickshaw in the Vasanthnagar area. Sanjana,28,from the Tehelka magazine,registered a complaint with the police making it only the second officially reported incident of women harassment in the recent series.
Earlier,a college student was surrounded and intimidated by a group of four men in the same locality who questioned her about her western attire. Three other similar incidents where girls have been targetted for their clothes or appearance have been reported unofficially. Some of the incidents have happened in broad daylight.
“These incidents are not about clothes,the time,socio-economic backgrounds or the language the victims speak. It is about easy targets,” the victim of the latest incident Sanjana said. Victims of the recent attacks have joined hands with friends and supporters and decided to form the Nirbhaya Karnataka collective to push the case for the safety of women in Bangalore.
As one of the first initiatives the group will petition Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari to provide safety measures for women. “There are a lot of public campaigns on traffic management. There seem to be none for helping women feel secure. I did not know where to call for help if I was kicked and stamped,” Sanjana said.
Despite being hit she managed to hang onto the t-shirts of one of her attackers but could not hold as they fled.
In the second initiative,the Nirbhaya Karnataka campaign will join hands with other groups to hold a night vigil on March 7 (Woman’s Day),called “take back the night”.