The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

And here comes the sad news. While I was wryly enjoying the hullabaloo in Colombo on the 31st, in various cities in India, women were being abused and molested. While I know that neither eve teasing nor abuse and violence against women is anything new, I was particularly mortified when reading the following stories, courtesy Shrek.

Have a look at the picture on the left. This happened, I believe, on New Year's Day 2008. A married couple, together with a cousin and another young women, exits a hotel at 1.30 in the morning and starts walking towards the beach. A group of men, numbering 40 - 50, starts following them, taunting the women. The mob grows into 70 - 80 men, eventually trapping the two women and their helpless companions. One of the men actually tore off the dress of one of the women, as shown in the picture. As the women fell on the ground, dozens of men jumped on them. The photographs were taken by two Hindustan Times reporters, who happened to be in the vicinity. One of the reporters managed to locate a police van, which eventually managed to chase the mob away.

Full series of pictures:

Full story:

This is almost a replay of a similar event that took place on New Year's Eve 2007. On New Year’s Eve, a reporter from Midday, Shadab Khan, was perched atop a police post, trying to capture the spirit of the revellers. Instead, what he captured was a crowd of about sixty people surrounding a
young girl and her boyfriend at the Gateway of India in Mumbai. The screaming girl was molested by the thugs while her boyfriend was roughly pushed aside. In the melee her dress was torn and she fell down. Miraculously, the couple managed to extricate themselves from the crowd and run away. The police have managed to arrest several suspects based on the photographs provided by the reporter.

Full story:

To sum up with the final story, a Swedish father and his 15 year old daughter landed up on a Kerala beach to usher in the New Year, only to have the poor girl manhandled by some jerk.

Full story:



WTF???? Imagine the brazenness of the men involved in all of the above incidents. Even the fear of being photographed couldn't keep them at bay. And if not for the photographers? Who knows how these stories would've ended. This is not merely one man assaulting a woman, but a hole mob. In the most metropolitan of cities, is this how safe women are? In a country that spent millions on an advertising campaign called
Incredible India, is it this type of incredulousness that you want your tourists to feel? Surely, instead of rebuilding temples, the concerned political parties should try educating the masses.

I have been to India - it is a beautiful country with some truly lovely people. But with this kind of ugliness simmering underneath, how far can it expect to grow? No amount of IT companies, no amount of wealth and vehicles will compensate for the total lack of humanity displayed in such incidents. How much development can you truly expect, when one half of the country is yet to learn how to respect the other half?

Let us also not kid ourselves - these types of incidents are common, if not quite on this scale, across the region. Eve teasing incidents can be found a dime a dozen on any given day.

Napoleon said that if we educate a woman, we educate a nation. How can we educate a woman when we cannot even protect her?

I'm not one to celebrate 31st of December; it's generally spent eating ice cream while lying on my couch reading a good book. This takes on particular significance in a country like Sri Lanka, where the lamest 31st night party ticket could cost you at least Rs.3000/=.

This 31st night turned out quite differently - a chance call by a friend around 10 p.m. resulted in a chance to go to the FTV party being held at the Taj, courtesy a free ticket. So I join in, figuring that I'll finally figure out what the whole city had been raving about for weeks. For starters, I was shocked that traffic at Mount Lavinia at 10.30 p.m. on a Monday night resembled that of rush-hour traffic. Then, stranger still was the amount of vehicles on the road in the city. The traffic, the lack of parking - all of them new to me. It took us a good 1/2 hour to get to our table, and mind you, that was from one end of a corridor at the Taj to the other! Incredibly, when we were staggering out at 4.30 in the morning, people were still queueing up outside to get in!! At 4.30 in the morning!! I'm not sure what they were expecting at that ungodly hour. All the drinks were finished, most of the food gone, and I think even the FTV dancers had disappeared.

It was quite literally a meat market...lot of young men & women, dressed to the gills trying to impress each other. And a lot of men with bug eyes, staring at the FTV dancers. I found a short video on the net, which sums up the picture beautifully (make special note of the background noises).

The saddest part was recognizing a student of AIS there, not even over 18. Going by the crowd he was a part of, I'm guessing that a lot of under aged kids got sloshed that night, across hotels. Are the powers-that-be at these hotels so money minded that they don't even have the good sense to restrict the event to adults?

Here's wishing all my readers a happy 2008 (yeah yeah, I'm three days behind). I hope that this year finds all your dreams coming true, the smiles growing wider, the tears becoming exclusive to joyous occasions and the bank paying you dividends!

Here in Sri Lanka, we started out the year with a bang - quite literally. On the 1st of January, we woke up not only to our respective hangovers, but also to the fact that MP T Maheshwaran had been shot dead at a Hindu Kovil around 10.30 a.m. While we were reading the editorials about that on the 2nd of January, sans the hangovers, news came in about a claymore mine attack at the Slave Island junction at 9.30 a.m., courtesy the LTTE. It's the 3rd today, and I woke upto the news that the CFA has been abrogated at long last. Sri Lanka will soon be without the farce of either a ceasefire agreement or of peace negotiations, and my money is on the idea that we will soon witness a lot more roadside blasts in the capital. I only hope that by the time 2008 draws to a close, we will be without the CFA, without claymore mine attacks, without assassinations - and above all, without the LTTE.

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