'Ban Ladies Night'- Everything That Is Wrong With Delhi Police's Decision

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“They stop, two guys get out and you hear ‘Bas gaadi mein daalo’, they start following the girl. She’s busy dealing with drunk friend... 2 guys get out again this time they go straight at the girl & the car is ready so they can grab her & toss her in. They surround her.”

These are just a few of the posts in the hair-raising thread of a Delhi-based female Twitter user. She took to the social networking site to narrate a horrific incident she was witness to on July 6 at Delhi’s ever-popular Hauz Khas Village (HKV). She recounts watching the attempted abduction of a woman, hindered only by intervention on her part, but more effectively, by the presence of her male friends.

While there are people questioning the legitimacy of her words, her failed attempt at getting a complete license plate number and not filing a police report, her thread has since understandably gone viral on social media. I, personally, don’t see any reason for this woman, who chooses to be unnamed in reports, to lie, and considering the growing number of attacks on women around the country, it’s sadly very believable.

Her recollection has left people rattled for a number of reasons and is so telling of the current mindset of average Indian men and the continuing hurdles women have to face when it comes to their safety.

They say ‘isko drop kar denge kahin’ zyada bolegi toh tereko bhi kahin le jayenge’. I threaten to call cops. They don’t seem fazed.

As reported by India Today, it was only when they saw that she was accompanied by other men did they take her seriously; “Upon noticing that she had boys with her, they “get worried.” It’s when there was a male presence that they feared any consequences for their actions. Not even the mention of police action could steer them away, why?

Because more often than not, there is no police action taken. And when it is, it’s a long, tumultuous journey where the prospect of real justice seems far out of reach. It’s only been a matter of a few days that a female passenger on the Mumbai local was flashed, masturbated at, and threatened with rape only to be laughed at by the police helpline she called for assistance. The matter only came to light and was taken up further by law enforcement after her Facebook post too went viral. Do we need to wait till our social media posts get enough traction to be taken seriously by the police?

“These were guys who very methodically had a plan to abduct & rape a woman. They weren’t doing it on impulse. They came here for this.”

The men at HKV weren’t drunk or high – as the Twitter user points out, they were stone-cold sober. It’s frightening to read how predetermined their entire act was, the meticulous planning and dedication they had to carry it out. They situated themselves in an area they knew is popular, expecting drunk women to trickle out after a fun night, ready for the picking.

Having been born and bred in Delhi, this thread actually scared me. I’ve lived in that city and spent countless days and nights at HKV, I know this locality like the back of my hand. Having now lived in Mumbai for a better part of two years, going back to my own city scares me because I know I am not safe in places I have spent large parts of my life in. Would I be lucky enough to have a witness, like this Twitter user, to intervene? Would she then be at risk herself if no male friends are around?

Many people tagged various wings of the Delhi police and associated government officials in her thread. Delhi Police responded with the statement that the matter had been referred to the South Delhi Deputy Commissioner for necessary action. The ‘necessary action’ taken stands as a true metaphor for the current status of women and their safety in 21st century Indian society.

For the police the best way to protect women in HKV, according to the report, was to ban ladies’ night in the locality’s bars and pubs till Independence day. Navbharat Times reported that South Delhi’s DCP Ishwar Singh stated that the ‘trend’ of ladies’ nights “hamper the law and order in the area” and “such establishments will be asked to stop hosting such nights.”

So, to put it simply, remove women from public spaces to keep them safe… in public spaces. How is this a solution? Women should stay at home so they’re safe? Most women are already doing that, isn’t that the problem?

While counter reports have come out with Singh dismissing any such ban, these words for me echoed the highly-condemned and debated opinion of ML Sharma, defense lawyer, in the banned documentary India’s Daughter – “The ‘lady,’ on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman,’ are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is upto you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.”

Maybe this is what things have come to, this is the sad reality of living in India for women. Women are not being able to protect themselves or other women, without the presence of a male ally; men leave their house at night with a complete plan in place to rape someone; lawmakers, law enforcers and officials believe that “In our culture, there’s no place for a woman.”

The next time I go home to Delhi, perhaps I’ll take matters of my protection into my own hands, take a cue from Sujatro Ghosh’s project and wear a cow mask over my head – maybe then I’ll be safe.