As Mumbai ushers in another year, and the city gets into party mode, let it be filled with joy, laughter, love, kisses and hugs and let nothing blight the peace and happiness of all those who believe in living for today, planning for today and partying on 31st night. The city will no doubt see revellers fanning across the streets, in hotels, bars, pubs, homes and outside too, all bringing in the year. The key here should be ensuring that everybody, women especially, are allowed to bring in the New Year safely and happily.
Every year, unfortunately, we read incidents about sexual molestation. Usually, there are accounts of women being groped or suddenly hemmed in by a crowd of revellers who sexually molest them as it is difficult to evade the crowd. There are times when a group of women have invited unwanted attention at a pub or bar, by men who may be inebriated thanks to New Year drinking. While most upmarket establishments have bouncers to keep a check on this, there are times when things can get out of control even indoors.
Some years ago, this paper carried pictures of a woman getting badly groped near the Gateway of India, a favourite New Year hotspot. Then again, there were a couple of women who were groped and molested when they were exiting a suburban nightspot on New Year’s Eve. Their male escorts were no match for the huge crowd that had gathered outside. Women may not be safe even walking towards their car, or waiting for transportation on the way back from partying.
With the accent on opposing sexual violence against women and a number of ongoing campaigns against rape and molestation, let every partygoer and layperson do their best to ensure that there is safety and security for women this 31st night. Let us not put the onus on those in uniform, and let no untoward incident be brushed off as merely some boisterous partying, or high-spiritedness under intoxication. The New Year, the streets of Mumbai and the world, belongs to women as much as it does to men. Let’s begin the New Year on a note of optimism that shows the city is moving forward in shaking off its unsafe-for-women tag that it has recently and shamefully been saddled with.