‘Dangal’ actor Zaira Wasim’s spine-chilling retelling of how she was allegedly molested by a fellow passenger aboard an aircraft is a stark reminder of just how vulnerable Indian women are in public places.
That Zaira, a public personality, was allegedly groped inside an airplane, a highly controlled and closed environment, only reflects the brazenness of the molester and also his confidence in the belief that he could get away unpunished despite committing the shameful act in full scrutiny.
In a way the incident mirrors the mindset of thousands of such sexual perpetrators who are emboldened by the fact that most women would rather keep quiet than grab attention for all the wrong reasons. Those who choose to speak out against it are often subjected to a reverse trial – as was Zaira, who was accused of doing what she did for publicity.
This is why the natural reaction of most women across the country – whether bottom-pinched by deviant bikers on the streets, or subjected to lewd comments on the metro rail, or leered at on the bus – is to remain silent.
The point is: are women safe in public places in India? Doesn’t a country on the fast track of economic progress first need to treat its women better? What would it take to change the mindset of the Indian man so that he stops viewing lone women as soft targets?