Bengaluru’s young working women living in fear

Women in Bengaluru are asked to fend for themselves when it comes to protection from sexual harassment. With more working women moving in from other cities, many Paying Guest (PG) accommodation and hostels have come up in areas like Jayanagar and Koramangala. These young women are complaining of sexual harassment closer to where they live.

Ankita Mehta, 24, a media employee and a resident of Koramangala says, "we face a lot of harassment problems in our lane, specially because there are fewer street lights working. Also sometimes the our PG caretaker brings a lot of men (friends)inside. We are always in fear of something terrible happening to us."

At Blossoms, Church Street

In 2009, Bangalorean women ran a campaign to hit back peacefully at increasing incidence of violence and harassment of women. In this file picture, Malavika Adnur, one of the volunteers, stands outside Blossoms Bookstore in Church Street with an opinion poll report. Pic: Kiran Jonnalagadda.

Anju Menon, 26, a software engineer, another resident of Koramangala says, "we are scared of even going to a nearby shop after 7. It gets dark and boys roaming on bikes pinch or touch us and go away."

On asking why they did not lodge a complaint against these men, she further added, "the police ask us questions like who were they and what did they do and so on. How are we going to notice a bike number in such darkness? So we think there is no point in complaining and humiliate ourselves."

Arun M, one of the PG owners in Koramangala says, "a lot of girls have come and told me about the harassment that is happening in the lanes. But (we can do) nothing apart from asking the girls to be more careful."

Police on the other hand, say that they cannot take any suo moto action. Hanumanth A, inspector, Koramangala police station says, "Nobody has registered any cases of women harassment or eve teasing so far."

Laxmi Murthy, author of Our Pictures, Our Words, who has been active in women’s rights issue for 25 years now says, "this menace will only reduce if the laws get stricter. Eve teasing is not a small thing. It is sexual harassment that might lead to adverse consequences."

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