With Increasing Cases Of Flashing At Women In Public, We Talk To Police How To Handle Such Situations
- IWB Post
- May 17, 2019
Bus stops, roads, restaurants, and ATM’s have all become the regular places where men are seen targeting women by flashing their genitals at them. While street harassment still remains an under-researched topic (though it is slowly changing), the problem doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.
It was only last month when singer Chinmayi Sripaada tweeted about men flashing in public spaces, and little did she know that she would be flooded with messages from all over. Observing that mostly the reaction of most women in such a situation is fear, shame or running away from it, she asked women to respond with their experiences about similar incidents. To her surprise, she was flooded with over 600 responses from women from places like Chennai, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad detailing the experiences.
By following the reported cases, Chinmayi realized that more often than not, it was the same locations that the pattern was being followed. However, it is being observed that this menace is steadily increasing as actions are not being taken against the perpetrators, who take advantage of women not speaking on the mater.
Whether experienced on the street or in public transport, in a market or in a park, sexual violence is a gross violation of women’s right to move about safely and participate in public life.
Recently, IWB was approached by a girl, who shared her experience of a similar kind. “I was on my way back home from the Malviya Nagar market when in the parking lot my scooty bumped into a 40 year-old man’s bike. While any other person would have shouted back at me or made an angry remark, this man courteously told me, “It’s okay beta, not a problem”. I was touched by his sweet gesture, but ten minutes later on my way home, he stopped me to inquire about a school’s address. As he seemed to be an educated and well-mannered man, I stopped to guide him, just when to my utmost disgust he unzipped his trousers and started masturbating.
That’s when I shouted at him saying what he was up to, but he smiled and continued. When I decided to call out for help, he ran away.”
As the road was not well lit, Shreya* could not note down the man’s vehicle’s number that could have helped the police to trace him. On hearing her story we asked Shreya* if she then approached the police station to report the case, to which she said she couldn’t as she had no evidence.
Shreya’s case stands as only one example of the many harassment cases that women face in public spaces. In yet another similar case, a man was arrested for flashing a woman inside an ATM booth in Mumbai, on Monday. But it only happened because the woman recorded the act and approached a nearby police van.
A girl from Mumbai shared a video of a deplorable incident that took place when she visited an ATM. A man flashed his private parts and made lewd gesture at her inside the ATM. A girl named Shibani shared a video and narrated the whole incident on social media site twitter.
With Shreya’s* story, we realized that in most of such cases, out of fear and shock, women are unable to take appropriate action. Hence, we approached Malviya Nagar Police Station’s CI Raghuveer Singh, who explained to us the right course of action to be taken when such incidences take place.
As per Mr. Singh, any person who stares in a disrespectful way, makes vulgar bodily gestures or touches himself, points at crass posters or follows the woman is considered criminal and a report can be filed at the police station. Suggesting the measures to be taken when such an incidence happens, he shared, “Reporting on 100 is the first step that any victim needs to do so that immediate action can be taken. Even if the victim doesn’t know her location, a call to the control room is more than enough for the police to trace the location and reach out for help.”
Pointing a very important thing to do, he said, “ It is also important to note down the vehicle’s number or take its picture that makes it easier for the police to deal with the case. In addition, the victim should make sure that she makes a loud shout so that the public gets aware and help can be just a step away.”
“Even if all these steps fail, it is important for the victim to report such cases at the nearest police station because until and unless such matters are brought to our notice, it becomes difficult for the police to increase patrolling in such areas so as to stop such harassment cases.”
*The name was changed to secure identity of the victim.