Media Storm Erupts over Bangalore "Night of Shame"

While the India city of Bangalore once enjoyed a reputation as a place where women could walk in safety, there was little evidence of that in an appalling spectacle that took place on New Year's Eve.   Despite the presence of more than 1500 police officers, thousands of men descended onto Bangalore's streets to engage in an active campaign of harassment and intimidation aimed at women.  According to reports, thousands of men, whether on foot, riding bicycles, or in cars, groped and shouted lewd comments at women on the city's main streets.   Many of the men were visibly intoxicated ans some even took selfies while they were harassing women at random.

One witness reported that, "By midnight, the shouts of Happy New Year turned to help me,“ while media outlets and social media users are referring to the events of New Year's Eve as "Bangalore's night of shame."   Police have already  come under fire for not doing enough to protect women during the festivities despite similar problems being reported in previous years.   Police statistics indicate 756 cases of sexual harassment being registered in 2016 of which 559 are still under investigation.  New cases continue to be registered every day leading to a tremendous backlog with little likelihood of justice for the victims.

In describing the events of December 31, online commenters have condemned the rising harassment against women and the lack of police action.  One Facebook user commented, "Complaints of crimes against women have largely fallen on deaf ears, with the police even saying, days before the mayhem of the night of 31 December, that it was not possible for them to patrol every inch of the city and that the onus of safety equally lies with women."

 While new director general of police Praveen Sood has attempted to duck responsibility by stating that his term began on January 1, he has since told media that "The safety of women, children and senior citizens are my main priorities. I also strongly believe that there is a need to sensitise the police and the citizens on issues that concern these people. Otherwise what is the point of calling ourselves a civilized society if our women and children do not feel safe."

As with the reported mass rapes that occurred in the German federal state of Cologne during the 2015 New Year's Eve celebrations, much of the blame is being laid on newcomers to the city though there is little actual evidence of this.   In the meantime, police are still investigating though the widespread intimidation directed against women in cities across India will likely continue despite pressure on police forces to be more vigilant.

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