Given the horrific incidents of NYE 2016, they will ring in the New Year at home
When Padmini Iyer’s sister was molested on Brigade Road last year, the family decided to shun New Year parties completely. In fact, they decided never to go back to where the incident took place. Padmini, a city-based freelance writer, says, “When my sister was molested last year, we went to file a report at Ashoknagar police station, but the police could not do much as she did not remember the faces of the men as they were half covered. It disturbs us that the molesters are roaming free but we can do little about it. My sister hardly goes out alone on occasions now. She is fine but is more alert. She told us that there were women cops too, but not a single cop could handle the situation.
Everyone in my family is now against the idea of going to New Year Eve parties. I still avoid going to Brigade Road even on other days, and will definitely not go there during festivals.”
This is just one story. There were other ‘incidents’ that went unreported or fell on deaf ears. And with NYE right around the corner, many women have decided to take care of their own safety. instead of depending on the authorities.
No longer a favorite destination
The last night of 2016 became a topic of discussion across the country for all the wrong reasons. A bunch of hooligans ran amok, tormenting and molesting women and left the 1,200 cops on duty clueless.
Vidya Vijay, a student of Christ College recalls, “Last year, seven of my friends and I were partying at a club on Church Street. We left at 12.30 am, and it was so crowded that we had to walk down till Brigade Road to find our cab. But it got worse there. Suddenly, we saw men on bikes all around us. I don’t know who they were or where they were coming from but they were drunk, passing lewd comments, riding up close to the women and grabbing them. It was even worse for couples.
They were being targeted more than the women. They were saying all kinds of derogatory things. Thankfully, we had four boys in our group who covered us, and no one could notice us.”
When asked whether she would go to Brigade Road this New Year, pat comes the reply, “Never. In 2015 too, this happened but it was not as bad as last year. I have gone to Brigade Road only twice this year. I have avoided it since that night – the memory still haunts me.”
Priyanshi Garg, a student of St Joseph College, says: “One of my classmates was molested on New Year’s Eve. He groped and flashed her. But since she belongs to a conservative family, neither did she tell her parents, nor did she complain to anyone. Though she has recovered from the incident now, she never talks about it and is usually uncomfortable when someone brings it up. It’s frustrating when women keep quiet, but she could do little about it. I do not want to celebrate my New Year anywhere around the areas where such things happened either.”
Avani Arya, who works at a consultancy firm, says: “Though MG Road and Brigade Road are bright places with all the attractions, it scares me when I think of what happened last year. My friends were molested in horrible ways. I am never going back there again.”
Deeksha Gupta, a software engineer, says: “My friends and I were passing by Brigade Road during the 2016-NYE celebrations, in our car and we saw how bad it was. A girl, who has dressed appropriately, was being pushed and harassed by a group of drunk men. She was agitated and shouting at them. There was too much rush so no one could help her, everyone was either busy saving themselves or were taking the chance to molest other women. It was scary. I wanted to help her but I was too afraid to get out of the car. Some men also banged on our windows. I will never go to MG Road or Brigade Road in New Year.”
Not a new story
What happened in 2016 is not new, something we’ve been told many times over, but it was perhaps reported for the first time with this kind of magnitude, which went on to become national news. Radhika Vinod Kumar, who works in a Bangalore-based firm, says, “My father tells us that when he attended a New Year party 30 years ago, he witnessed women being harassed openly. So, this is not something new. But we need to progress as a society, not be regressive.”
Born and brought up in the city, Kumar knew too well that something like this (referring to the 2016-debacle) would happen. “It happens every year. My friends and I always avoid Brigade Road and MG Road on New Year’s Eve. We choose to party at more organized and well-known places where such crowds are not allowed. I think our mentality needs to be questioned. Wearing short clothes and having a few drinks don’t make a woman open to harassment. She’s not public property.”
House parties are safer
Though authorities have ensured better arrangements, with more women cops, CCTV cameras, and have put better plans in place to keep the situation under control, girls say that they would rather not risk partying out. Preksha Prem, who works at a start-up, says, “I prefer to go to places that I am familiar with, or where I personally know the party organizer. Going in a larger group is also a better idea. But the best idea is to have a house party, which is what we have planned this year.”
Miranda Ngangom, a student of Mount Carmel College, says: “The police should have taken more precautions and organized safety measures with the proper inspection. Everybody tends to get drunk during NYE parties, so if going out, one should keep a check on the number of drinks they have. I think I would much rather party with my close friends at home.”
Don’t shift blame, take responsibility
Tanushree Ishani, the owner of Body Cafe, a Bengaluru-based online beauty portal, says: “Moral policing or indulging in a blame game is not the solution. All of us should enjoy responsibly and exercise caution so that we aren’t sorry later.”
City-based entrepreneur Amit Ansshu is of the same opinion. “I am aware that harassment happens every year, but since last year, I have decided to never go to Brigade on New Year’s Eve.”