How many tweets will it take for all the perverts to be exposed?

What we need is a change in the mentality of those who shamelessly masturbate at women.

 |  2-minute read |   19-08-2015
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As an undergraduate, I attended a girls college in south Mumbai. The bus stop closest to our college was obviously a breeding ground for perverts. It was by no means unusual to find men waiting to whip out their penis at the sight of a student.

Several similar but far more horrifying stories of girls as young as seven and eight being flashed at or masturbated at poured in on Twitter when comedian Aditi Mittal initiated a Twitter conversation through her hashtag #MyFirstPublicIndecency a few days ago. It’s clear that these bus stop masturbators and creepy cab drivers are not a particularly rare phenomenon, not even in the supposedly safe city of Mumbai.

Also read: Man masturbates in front of foreigner: Is public indecency an Indian problem?

The outpourings that followed Mittal’s hashtag may have reached the mainstream media, but it took expat Maryanna Abdo’s tweet of a photo of her pervy perp to bring out the outrage. By requesting her followers to retweet the image she’d taken of the guy who had just masturbated at her, Abdo managed to get the attention of not only the leading newspapers but also chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who is believed to have extended support.

Just a few days ago, I attended "Wandering Women: The Feminist Documentary Festival of India", where some fine films made on incredibly inspiring women were screened through the day. Through Dream Girls, one of the documentaries screened that day, young filmmakers Afrah Shafiq and Deepika Sharma brought up a pertinent question. Made in response to the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang rape in Delhi, the filmmakers wondered whether women in the country would have to live in constant fear, worried about being watched at all times, prepared to return an assault when faced by one.

In Abdo’s case, her tweet managed to get her help from the police, but what we need is a change in the mentality. We must applaud Abdo for her courage and quick-witted response, but is the camera phone to become an omnipresent weapon along with the can of pepper spray and a set of newly learnt martial arts moves?


Moeena Halim Moeena Halim @moeenah

The writer is associate editor for Simply Mumbai, a city-based supplement of India Today.

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