mid-day editorial: Make Mumbai safe for women again

A front-page report in this paper yesterday highlighted the shocking ordeal of a 26-year-old girl from Manipur, who was assaulted and molested in Santacruz, but found no help from either the onlookers or the local police, who merely registered a non-cognisable offence (NC). The complaint did not even mention molestation, even though the woman showed the officer her torn clothes.

It is doubly shocking that this happened in daylight and in public view, but disappointingly, this is becoming a pattern in Mumbai. It is hardly alarmist to say so, when violence — especially sexual violence — against women continues to rise despite a greater effort to create awareness and push for stricter penalties against the perpetrators.

Today, it is no exaggeration when we say that Mumbai has lost its ‘safe for women’ tag. Girls are being molested outside educational campus. Spurned lovers are taking their revenge on girls for perceived slights.
Parents are worried about their little girls in schools and in school buses.

The second aspect to this incident is the racial one, where the victim claims no one came to her rescue because of her north-eastern facial features. There have been sporadic and disheartening instances when citizens from the North East belt — mostly women — have been attacked. But it is often hard to pin down whether such attacks are racial in nature, because this is a grey area; it’s not easy to prove that the
victim was targeted because what he or she looked like. However, it is heinous if such discrimination rears its ugly head in Mumbai, the most cosmopolitan of all cities.

People have to change their attitude and, simultaneously, there must be harsher punitive measures against such crimes. Out with apathy, indifference or pathetic acceptance of such incidents. Our efforts to make the city safer for women have to double, be many pronged and relentless.

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