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Mumbai woman fights lonely battle against sexual harassment

Two years after photographer Monisha Ajgaonkar registered a case against two men who verbally abused her in broad daylight, she is yet to receive justice. Last week, she finally got a call from the RAK police station in Sewri, asking her to be present in court. At a time when women are increasingly facing sexual harassment and societal pressure to stay mum, when one does speak up, it’s a long, solitary fight to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book

Over the last few years, every day there is news of women being sexually assaulted and harassed, irrespective of their age, class and caste. This in a country where women are revered as goddesses. While most women who undergo this trauma are compelled to stay mum due to societal pressure, what happens to those who decide to speak up? It results in a long, lonely fight to seek justice and ensure that the perpetrators are punished.

In July 2012, Monisha Ajgaonkar, a Sewri-based resident, was sexually harassed by two men near her house
In July 2012, Monisha Ajgaonkar, a Sewri-based resident, was sexually harassed by two men near her house 

Monisha Ajgaonkar faced a similar fate. In July 2012, the Sewri resident registered a case at the RAK police station against two men, who outraged her modesty in broad daylight near her residence. Her request to the cops to rush to the spot and nab the duo fell on deaf ears. The police finally filed a First Information Report (FIR) and charged them under Sections 509, 323, 504, 427 and 34. Two months later, the duo was nabbed.

Now last week, after two years, she got a call late one night, from the RAK police asking her to be present in the court the very next day, failing which a bailable warrant will be issued against her.

In an age where activists demand that cases of sexual abuse be taken up in fast track courts and that cops be sensitised while handling such cases, this incident comes as a rude shock.

What exactly happened
Recalling the incident, Ajgaonkar said, “Usually I don’t travel by train while going to work, I prefer going by road. But on July 5, 2012 at around 3.15 pm I left home and decided to catch a train as I was extremely late for work. It was then that two boys passed a comment on my hair, saying, ‘Jawaan hoke bhi buddhi dikh rahi hai’ (She looks old despite being young). I protested and hit the two-wheeler on which they were sitting, with my umbrella. It was then that they got furious and said — ‘Arre item, zyaada uchal mat’ (don’t try to act smart).”

She rushed to the RAK police station, which was hardly a minute away from the spot, and asked the cops to rush to the place.

She claimed that it was only when one of her friends called the senior most police officials giving them the two wheeler’s number and its description did they began searching for the boys.

However, when contacted, Senior Police Inspector of RAK police station Vilas Wankhede said, “ I cannot comment on it as the matter is in court.”

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