Washing dirty laundry in public is always fun. As long as it is not yours. Every once in a while, when an incident of harassment (political or sexual) washes up our shores, we righteously lean in favor of the victim. It is heartening to note that we now applaud the victim for coming out in public. But what after that?
It all begins with good interest. As the event unfolds, the debate intensifies. Soon we begin to lose focus. Personal interests of the powerful come into play. Amid all the din and bustle of charges and counter-charges, the victim becomes a pawn in dirty shadow boxing.
Strange as it sounds, one has to be a victim to know how it feels. A week ago, we met with a minor car accident. As we were about to turn right after the traffic light turned green, a truck carrying liquor bottles rammed into our car. Fortunately, we were safe. The car was damaged. While my husband was trying to untangle the car from the truck, scores of bystanders crowded our car. No, no one lunged at me. No one harassed me either. They were peeping inside the car, some were sneering and some watching out of curiosity.
A bystander offered to be a witness, almost forcing us to press charges against the errant truck driver. His interest? His share.
An auto driver promptly offered me a ride back home. His interest? His share. Sensing urgency he charged thrice the regular amount when I reached home.
The cop? Well, let’s not even begin.
Naturally, we did not register a case. Who wants to deal with a bootlegger? Or a cop who smiles wickedly as if saying, ‘Ab ayeega maaza’.
What happened with me was a snapshot of a different kind. But the feeling was similar.
Sometimes I feel as if vultures are circling over our heads. They promptly descend, the moment they spot a piece of dangling flesh.
If the unfortunate incident unfolds on the national screen, it is soon drenched in political filth. In cases of sexual assault or harassment involving women, the picture becomes so murky that the victim begins to wonder why she reported it in the first place. Is it any surprise that a majority of cases go unreported?
Geetika, Durga, stalked woman in Gujarat, assaulted girl in Goa – all became objects of a bigger fight between political adversaries. In their enthusiasm to lynch the perpetrator, politicians conveniently ignore the voices of the family of the victim. We cannot even imagine the trauma suffered by Geetika’s mother who also committed suicide after her daughter was found hanging. Who cares about the Gujarat victim’s father who is pleading, “Please leave my daughter alone! She is happily married.”
In an election year, the victim becomes a football. Even rape is categorized as secular rape versus communal rape. And the foxy concern evinced is mainly to score political goals.
Milking the incident
Perhaps the victims of harassment (political or sexual) feel the same – that they are being used as bait. Once the last drop of orange is squeezed, the media moves on to squeeze the next juicy one. As I write, news channels are busy dissecting the Tehelka case. Arnab is angry. Rightly so. He seemed particularly peeved because Shoma Chaudhary spoke to all the channels except his channel. Imagine speaking to Rajdeep and Nidhi but ignoring the mighty Arnab? Ouch! Hurts.
The lynch mob on social media was no different. Under the garb of expressing solidarity with the victim, many were interested in the details of what transpired in the elevator. After a woman lawyer divulged the details on national television, I realized that her confidential e-mail had leaked in public domain. It was on social media. I read it too. But saw no point in sharing it. At one level, I am glad that the CCTV footage of the elevator was unavailable. Else, it would have leaked too. And garnered maximum hits. I am wondering how private e-mails leak in public domain? Everything sells?
The media needs to introspect. Milking a story beyond a point is detrimental for any victim.
While it is heartening that cases of assault or harassment are not treated with indifference, I think it is time to look inwards. Let’s look beyond self-interest. Let’s be a little more sensitive. Let’s be human.
Picture Courtesy: Google Images (www.123rf.com)