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Women's safety is a growing concern in the country. Each day, we wake up to the horrifying news of sexual harassment, abuse, domestic violence and eve-teasing. As progressive as we claim to be, the mentality of our society is still debatable. And, an event that took place years ago, in 2013 will show us how far has the country come in the case of women's safety.
In 2013, the name Shruti Chaturvedi was prominent among news portals. Then, a student at St Xaviers' College, Ms Chaturvedi had filed a complaint against a shopkeeper who had allegedly harassed her and her female friend at Bhadra Fort. And six years later, Chaturvedi, now a media professional has withdrawn the complaint on 3 September.
So why has she retracted the complaint after SIX years? Well, Chaturvedi has explained it in a detailed Twitter thread. Six years, eight hearings, multiple trips to Ahmedabad and numerous cancelled important work meetings later Chaturvedi was not served justice.
What Happened in 2013?
According to the tweets by Chaturvedi, the incident happened on the day when she and her friend had gone to the Bhadra Fort, where she went into the Bhadrakali temple while her friend waited outside, checking out some earrings from a hawker.
However, when Chaturvedi came out of the temple, what she saw shocked her as Chaturvedi's friend was trying hard to get out of the hold of a man (a hawker in the market). Even while forcefully holding her hand, the man was touching her friend inappropriately and kept making lewd remarks. When Ms Chaturvedi reacted to that situation, he held her too, causing her to slap him (naturally!).
No one in the market helped these women or bothered to check on them. The next day, Chaturvedi along with her friend filed a complaint at the police station, with the help of a journalist friend.
I retracted a harassment case today. A thread on why:— Shruti Chaturvedi (@adhicutting) September 3, 2019
Some context - This was 2013, I was in college in Ahmedabad. My friend and I had gone to Bhadra Fort - I went to the Bhadrakali temple while she stayed outside, checking out earrings outside. When I came outside, I saw her pic.twitter.com/IhQ2faqJH1
It Took 6 Years!
As per the very detailed tweet, Chaturvedi received the first notice for the hearing, 6 years later, at a house where she longer lived in. During this period, she had switched 2 jobs, started her own company and moved 3 cities setting up offices - all the while she received no effective response.
After countless hours and energy spent on the case, she decided to withdraw the case. The judge insisted that she shouldn't withdraw it as the crime is unpardonable, but Chaturvedi had long lost faith and hope.
What About Section 354 IPC?
As per Section 354 IPC, outraging the modesty of a woman is a serious crime and allows the police to arrest the accused without a warrant. With various legal provisions regarded to sexual offence against women, Chaturvedi withdrew the case with no positive action taken.
Here, as readers, we are brought to the reality of cases of these manners. It shines a light on the lack of or delayed justice in our country. She concluded the tweet by asking everyone to give up the attitude of invalidating someone's story of abuse or harassment because spending 6 years of your life behind a case that brought forth nothing but despondency and anguish can be poignant.