Two girls from Rohtak become national icons after they bashed up three ‘molesters’ in a bus while no one came to their help. The incident instantly became a rage in the media. What happened next is worrying, but not surprising. No one wanted to miss this incident: Women empowerment, molester-bashing and cynicism. Even my parents were in awe of the girls. “This is how it should be. Girls should just beat up boys like this,” my mother said. And, she wasn’t the only one.
The three men were arrested and sent to jail. Two of them had cleared physical and medical tests for the Indian Army but their recruitment process has been terminated. Meanwhile, one of the eyewitnesses wrote his version of the incident on Facebook. He blamed the girls. And then a second video with the same girls beating and abusing another man surfaced.
Three days and three disrupted lives later people are now doubting the videos. And here we are back again to our presumptuous selves, no lessons learnt. We’re now focusing attention on questioning the girls we called ‘bravehearts’, a word we so strongly associate with the December 16 gang rape victim. And, here we are back to making snap judgments. The girls could be telling the truth, but we must hear them dispassionately.
When I write ‘we’ it’s not just the media I’m blaming. Unless it is politics, consumers of news mostly lap up everything, no questions asked. Everyone’s impatient, intent on reaching a conclusion right away and everyone wants to be politically correct. Imagine if anyone had questioned the veracity of the video and the girls’ accusations the day the story broke, he or she would’ve been shamed on social media platforms and accused of indulging in victim-blaming and patriarchy and stripped of any credit.
Spare a thought, also, for the security of these girls. With their faces plastered everywhere, they are vulnerable to attacks by those looking for revenge or those looking to ‘teach them a lesson’. Further, if the two fail to prove their allegations, they will never get help if real need arises tomorrow.
‘Rohtak Bravehearts’ and ‘Rohtak Molesters’ are easy hashtags, but trending news shouldn’t help men get away with molesting women or help women seeking 15 minutes of fame. Let’s pray that our spirited social media activity actually makes a worthwhile difference.
The views expressed by the author are personal.