When a senior politician in India questioned why a female stalking victim had been allowed out late at night he made a big mistake. Big. Huge.
Radio DJ Varnika Kundu, 29, was followed and nearly kidnapped by two men while driving home in the early hours of Saturday in the northern city of Chandigarh.
She shared an account of her traumatic experience on Facebook describing how she suffered a “full-blown panic attack” as the men tried to corner her, block her car and open the door to reach her.
“They seemed to really be enjoying harassing a lone girl in the middle of the night, judging by how often their car swerved, just enough to scare me that it might hit me,” she wrote.
Vikas Barala, the son of a high profile politician from Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, and his friend Ashish Kumar were released on bail just hours after being arrested by police.
WAS ALMOST KIDNAPPED ON A CHANDIGARH ROAD LAST NIGHT.That being said, I'd like to take a moment to commend and thank…
But Ramveer Bhatti, vice chief of the BJP, has decided that actually, the woman is to blame because she dared to stay out past midnight and live her goddamn life.
“The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night. Why was she driving so late in the night?” he told a local TV station on Monday, according to The Times of India. “Parents should take care of their daughters. They should not be allowed to roam out of the house late in the night. They should come back home on time.”
Women watching the programme were outraged by Bhatti’s outrageous victim-blaming and before long, the #AintNoCinderella hashtag had emerged, as hundreds of women began sharing selfies of themselves out at night, refusing to give into fear.
“We women believe in breaking glass ceilings not fitting into glass slippers,” wrote journalist Rana Safvi, to thousands of likes and retweets.
Here are some of our favourites (quite a few because we kept finding awesome ones):
— Rekha Navani (@rekha_navani) August 7, 2017
— Surekha Rao (@surerao) August 7, 2017
— Poorva Sharma (@PforPoorva) August 7, 2017
— Angkita Dutta (@angkitadutta) August 7, 2017
— Divyaprasanna (@divya96prasanna) August 7, 2017
— Bose Shruti (@Tinni_Aphrodite) August 7, 2017
— Samyukta Hornad (@samyuktahornad) August 7, 2017
India is a hugely regressive country when it comes to women’s rights, with Indian women struggling against problems such as rape and honour killings caused by the long-held belief that they are inferior to men.
In 2015, there were 327,294 reports of violence against women – an increase of over 40 per cent since 2011, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.
There are more than 40,000 rapes in the country every year, but that figure only takes into account the attacks that are reported. The horrendous gang rape and murder of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh on a Delhi bus in 2012 sparked nationwide protests against rape culture, forcing stricter laws to be enacted, but India has a long way to go to achieve gender equality.