On the 6th of July, a horrifying incident of attempted rape came to light, when a woman took to Twitter to narrate an account of seeing a woman getting almost kidnapped by two drunk men, who then also threatened to rape her for intervening. The incident took place on the roads of the posh Hauz Khas Village, popularly known as HKV, when this woman was leaving after one of the Wednesday’s ‘Ladies’ Night’.

The lack of police officials on that road that night resulted in an (un)event that could’ve proven to be extremely dangerous. This casual attitude of the authorities, be it the police, individual owners or the government, is not new.

While rapes are happening all over the country, Hauz Khas has attracted a lot of attention because of its alarmingly high rates of sexual harassment cases. In February, a 23 year old North eastern woman was raped twice by a 20 year old worker, ‘Raja’ a karamchari at Hauz Khas. Previously, in 2014, another woman was brutally gang raped in Hauz Khas, of which one of the convicts was a doctor.

Considering these events, according to an article on India Today, the police have come to believe that Ladies Night parties “hamper the law and order situation of the area”. Although no formal details are available, speaking with The Quint on condition of anonymity, senior Delhi Police officials confirmed that the establishments have been ‘asked’ to avoid organizing Ladies’ Nights for the sake of women’s safety.

Even if this ban isn’t implemented, we are still dealing with the issue of censoring the victim rather than the perpetrator on an everyday basis, and it’s something we need to think about.

Here’s the thread that she put up on Twitter (and later deleted) :

Source: Youth Ki Awaaz

Source: Youth Ki Awaaz

There are mixed reports regarding the authenticity of this statement, but regardless, it raises important concerns. Why do the police need to curtail women’s activity to safeguard them? There have been various instances where the lack of police has resulted in massive attacks on women, one such example is the Bengaluru mass molestation incident.

To ban the ladies night would once again mean that it is the women who have to ultimately be punished for the doings of others. It provides an easy way to pin blame on women if they are harassed or violated – “Why were they out in the first place?” It internalizes the very concept that rape is the victim’s fault.

Why do the police need to curtail women’s public lives to safeguard them?

This idea, rather than solving the issue, is contributing to its strengthening. It’s reinforcing the already existing notions that women shouldn’t go out at night, that they are solely responsible for their own exploitation. It’s bringing to light the flawed concept of ‘men will be men’, victim blaming and shaming. It might be done with good intentions in mind, but we need to do away with these ideas that ‘controlling’ women will save them. No, sir. Instead, it promotes the rape culture. It promotes the very idea that we are trying to eradicate.

Does restricting the movement of women solve the issue? Why are the police creating hurdles for women rather than finding solutions for them? Rather than increasing safety measures, curtailing the public lives of women has always been the first move of the authorities.

The ban is an example of of how the authorities find the easy way out rather than working on this issue from the ground level. This is not a new phenomenon for our authorities. The news has always been riddled with ridiculous measures taken by the State to deal with the problem of sexual violence by limiting women’s engagement with public spaces.

For example, after an instance of rape in Gurugram (then Gurgaon) in 2012, the city administration passed an abrupt order which restricted all the workplaces in the vicinity from having women employees post 8 PM. The District Commissioner even directed the officials to conduct secret checks to ensure its implementation. Female office-goers in Gurugram were therefore further inconvenienced from accessing their workplace – all in the name of their “safety”.

And who can forget our Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi’s statements on hostel curfews? Speaking to a TV channel just days before the International Women’s Day, Maneka Gandhi said: “When you are 16 or 17, you are also hormonally very challenged. So to protect you from your hormonal outbursts, perhaps a lakshman rekha is drawn. It really is for your safety,” justifying the hostel curfews on women. With leaders making such comments, it’s no wonder that the authorities come up with ideas like this.

we need to do away with these ideas that ‘controlling’ women will save them.

Various organizations, such as ‘Pinjra Tod’ have been working on reclaiming the public spaces, and initiatives such as the ‘bus campaign’ where women go out at night in huge groups and reclaim public transport, which essentially is their fundamental right. Movements such as the multi-city march #IWillGoOut stake women’s claim over public spaces. It’s important for women to go out there on the roads and claim these spaces as theirs.

The Delhi Police should make arrangements for security at Hauz Khas stronger, instead of making these bizarre and misguided attempts at women’s safety. Rapists and murderers are getting away with their crimes because well, what was that woman doing on the secluded roads of Hauz Khas, that too in the middle of the night?


Featured Image Credit: The Indian Express

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