Yet another Holi has come and gone and, despite the growing conversation around women’s safety and equality on this festive day, 2017 was no different when it comes to violation of their rights. One look at a compilation of all reported cases of rape, assault and molestation of women on 13 March this year and the retort to “bura na mano, Holi hai!” becomes clear:
Kaise bura na manoon?
Walking down streets and being targeted and then grabbed, repeatedly, and in public, by huge groups of men and boys. #Holi— Corinne Redfern (@CorinneRedfern) March 12, 2017
These are only the reported cases of sexual offences against women which made it to the news. When we consider the thousands of women (and girls) who were groped, pinched, and played Holi with against their consent who didn’t or couldn’t complain; or the hundreds more who could have been molested, harassed and even raped who didn’t complain; victims whose guardians didn’t think “society” needed to know; wives whose alcoholic husbands came back especially drunk because holi hai and beat them up – the violence takes on devilish proportions.
“There’s a particular targeting of women’s genital parts,” says Shristi Satyawati, speaking to The Guardian. Two days before Holi, she tried to lodge a police case against a group of men who pelted her with water balloons “on [her] breasts and bum”.
Shristi SatyawatiI was deeply agitated, but the police said they couldn’t lodge a case. They said it was Holi – they couldn’t do anything about it.