It happened outside a bus stand in Mumbai, the booming financial and industrial hub of India. I was 18, a newcomer to the city, waiting for a bus back to my hostel after finishing a tiring day at college. Once inside the bus, I saw it is completely crowded, with no space to even breathe. Pushing my way in, I stood right in the middle of the aisle with whatever inches of space I had. I felt it then, a hand rubbing my behind, shocked to my core, I turned around to see someone standing all smug. Tears rolled immediately, shockwaves ran through my spine and screamed to everyone’s surprise. The man was thrown off the bus the very next instant. “I wish there was a safe way to travel,” I remember telling my roommate later that night.
Transit riders, and especially women, are often victims of a wide range of sexual offences that happen every day on buses and trains. In a city where thousands march to support female rights, women’s safety continues to be a huge issue, and this Twitter thread recounting the harrowing experience of a 25-year-old in Mumbai proves yet again why. However, she took to Twitter to share her reporting ordeal and called on Mumbai Police to sensitise their personnel towards such incidents.
Mumbai Woman Recounts Being Molested In Local Train
A lawyer by profession, the Twitter user was molested on her way to work on the local train. “While I will be pursuing requisite action, my sole purpose of writing this is a humble request to the Mumbai Police to sensitise your force and make them aware and accountable for their own duties, especially for such sensitive incidents,” she wrote at the beginning of her Twitter thread.
The woman shared that she went to register a complaint at Mumbai Andheri police station, and was instantly hammered with unnecessary questions, and scrutiny and was made to recall the incident again and again to different sets of police officers.
“After a delay of three hours for reasons best known to the cops (I entered at 11am, identified the perpetrator at 11:30 and my statement was taken at 2), me narrating my horrible experience 3-4 times, describing and identifying the man who assaulted me, hearing how I should have hit him and tackled this better, and that I should be thankful I was in my “covered” formal attire, being told to give my statement in the middle of the police station when a separate room was clearly available, being told that since he wasn’t my boyfriend or someone I knew I was a “nice girl” and I didn’t do anything wrong to be upset, I finally got a copy of my statement,” she added in the thread.
She said that the police then told her that the platform where she was assaulted was actually under the Borivali railway police jurisdiction and that the entire information would be forwarded to them. “To my shock, I received a call from the Borivali police station this evening calling me once again to identify the perpetrator on CCTV footage,” [sic] she tweeted.
After the woman took to social media, the GRP responded to her ordeal and said she need not come to the Borivali police station to identify the perpetrator and they would coordinate with the Andheri GRP.
The Twitter user said she recognises her privilege and especially being an advocate knows her rights. But for someone not as par with her position, filing to complain is a real hassle. To suffer victimisation in the hands of the legal system, with truth being challenged constantly while running from pillar to post is harrowing at all ends.
A 2020 study on sexual harassment in public places by Michigan State University researcher Mahesh K Nalla, which surveyed men and women in various parts of Delhi, found that only 38.1 per cent of the victims and 42. 2 per cent of the offenders were aware of the laws against sexual harassment.
The official Twitter handle of the Mumbai Railway Police Commissioner replied to her thread and said an investigation was underway. A senior police officer from the Mumbai GRP further said “Three teams have been formed to nab the molester. Sandeep Bhajibhakare, DCP, GRP, will be looking into her complaint on the behaviour of the cops.”