It is rather tragic, albeit true, that every time there is an incidence of rape, there is almost like a laundry list that is read out — fast track courts, stricter laws, more convictions, sensitising men, and so on and so forth. One would have thought that the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case would have changed things, and perhaps it did, with the IPC Section 376 undergoing change as custodial rape became punishable, but like they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The gruesome gang rape of an MBA student on August 24, in the periphery of Chamundi Hills, one of the iconic tourist spots near Mysuru, left the country aghast. While the incident evoked horror in many, normalisation and victim blaming could also be witnessed.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra asked: “Why did she go to the spot at that hour?” A former woman chief of the state’s Women’s Commission said she was “disgusted” that the victim went to the spot. Yet another woman MLA echoed the similar thought: “Haven’t we heard that ‘good girls’ don’t venture out of their homes with a man in attendance after sunset.”
The fact that the police nabbed the perpetrators well after 48 hours of the incident was glossed over. The reality that the best-known tourist spot in the city, Chamundi Hills was unsafe for women was not even considered.
Experts say that most heinous crimes can be avoided if the initial signals are recognised and acted upon. In the case of a city like Mysuru, one the most basic and often ignored aspect, which is also considered most essential for women’s safety, stays far from the radar of authorities: well-lit streets.
When all else have failed, groups like ‘Mysuru Memes’, a social media initiative, have now come forward to identify ‘dark and dingy spots’ in the city. What began as a social media campaign soon spread like bushfire and many began responding to the initiative. Sample this:
“Hii Admin, I saw your ig video it is really good and it’s a first step taking action towards avoiding the incidents that gonna happen In future. The past crime scenes have been occurred in Mysuru it is such a shame and grief. I would like to share my experiences as of now, My home is in Mansa Tej layout newly extended area it is opposite to Maratikyathana Halli, while coming to home around 8 in chain snatching was attempted on me as there are only few street lights as I was being followed for chain snatching I understood n I entered into a beauty parlour and waited until my brother came and we went home together, two times I have been followed by strangers at nyt around 8.30 and mid noon at 1 when I went alone by walk really felt unsafe at noon time now I’m scared to go out anywer alone. Hopefully as I’m working from home it’s really relief not able to go out but still I thought to share my views. thanks for doing this,” a post on the social media page read.
This isn’t the first time that a group of individuals have come forward to fill in for the utter failure of civic authorities. Even as the convenor of Mysuru Memes, C Sumanth, remains optimistic that local politicians shall join in their initiative to light up the streets of the city, one only hopes that it doesn’t take more unfortunate incidents to enlighten local authorities to make Mysuru safe for women.