Multiple women were groped, harassed, and forced to run for help during a New Year’s Eve celebration in Bengaluru, India. But state politicians claim the women are to blame for their short dresses and "western" clothes.
The Bangalore Mirror first reported on the assaults, which allegedly began around 11 pm.
As an estimated 60,000 revelers gathered in the streets to celebrate the new year, men began groping and making lewd remarks toward women. One police officer reportedly came across men trying to strip an intoxicated woman's clothes off. The Times of India published video of two men molesting a woman on a motorcycle.
Photographer Chaitali Wasnik recounted her experience on Facebook.
"On this fucking new year, some random guy tried to grope me while I was returning home from work and with so much ease he did as if he thought [I'll] not utter a word because I'm a fucking scared woman," she wrote.
At least two Indian politicians responded by blaming the victims of the alleged assaults.
G Parameshwara, the state's home minister, brushed the allegations aside by saying "these kind of things do happen." He told The Hindustan Times that the attacks occurred because the revelers were dressed "like westerners."
Meanwhile, legislative assembly member Abu Asim Azmi argued that women should not go out in "short dresses" without a family member present.
"Partying late [at] night in half attire, blindly following western culture, has never been our culture," he said. "Ladies hailing from well-to-do families, be it from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, or UP, they come out in decent attire and mostly with their family members."
Others, however, faulted the Bengaluru police.
Ajai Kumar Singh, retired director-general of police, said that large, raucous New Year's Eve crowds have been an issue in the city since the 1970s, but several police officers told The Bangalore Mirror that they were outnumbered and overwhelmed. What's more concerning is the police refused to address the alleged assaults until video of the incidents went viral. They have now arrested five men in connection with the case.
Rega Jha, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed India, said the tepid response to the New Year's Eve assaults comes as no surprise.
"Bangalore reminded us — as other cities, other incidents, other headlines have reminded us month after month — that, for an Indian woman, this isn't a world worth trusting," she wrote. "...The freedoms in an Indian boy's upbringing are absolute. Since sexual assault isn't a daily threat to boys, it isn't even brought up."