Lucknow Viral Video: What Our Reaction To The Case Says About Us

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao
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Lucknow viral video case: On Sunday, Priyadarshini Narayan Yadav, the young woman who was caught on camera assaulting a cab driver on a busy intersection in Lucknow, was called in for questioning by the police. Yadav alleged that she assaulted the cab driver (slapping him more than 20 times, mind you) in "self defense". Social media on the other hand is asking why she hasn't been arrested yet, despite visual proof of the assault? However, Internet's own conduct, in this case, needs to be evaluated thoroughly first.

To give credit where it is due, the case would have slipped through the cogs of the Indian criminal justice system, had it not been for social media. Only after the video went viral and the ensuing widespread outrage against the woman, was any legal action taken against her. One can only wonder how many such incidents of assault might go unnoticed in our country on a day-to-day basis, simply because they are not caught on camera, or because the videos capturing these incidents aren't shared widely. Must justice or legal action follow social media outrage? Isn't that a dangerous course to be on for a 1.3 billion strong nation where the answer to a parking ticket is "Tu janta nahi mera baap kaun hai?"

Having said that, this is the exact point where social media discourse lost its way and dove into the murky waters of misogyny and anti-feminist sentiments, never to get back on track again. Despite women equally calling out Yadav for her actions and demanding legal actions against her, feminism and empowerment were put on trial, based on the actions of a single woman. Well, not single exactly. Beauty blogger Hitesha Chandranee's case was dug up too and several trolls accused women of playing the victim card and misusing the empathy that their gender is awarded with, based on the narrative of wide-spread abuse they are subjected to, due to their gender.

The accusations were not entirely misplaced. There do exist women who misuse the movement of empowerment to weave false narratives. But should an entire movement be discredited for their actions? What about the hard work of women who challenge patriarchal norms, so that our girls can grow up to have better lives, devoid of restrictive dictates that have an impact on every aspect of their lives, from education to hobbies and marriage, and even motherhood? Almost every woman has a horror story, a real incident of facing abuse and harassment brought on simply by their gender? Can we let these women suffer, and cancel a whole movement because of how some women decided to respond?

Besides, Yadav's behaviour seems a byproduct of class. Yes, she could get away with beating a man in the middle of a crowded street due to her gender, and that is problematic. But is that the only factor relevant to the case?

Views expressed are the author's own. Lucknow viral video case


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