New Year's Eve festivities in Bangalore, one of India's largest bustling cities, were marred by widespread sexual assault and harassment in what local media is calling the Bangalore's "night of shame." One witness, Sammy, told The Guardian that women were trying to find places to hide and avoid attacks. "There were inhuman acts," Sammy continued. "People were acting like they were helping the women, but actually they were molesting them, insulting them, just provoking them."
In response, a government official said that the sexual assaults took place because people were trying to copy western "mindset and dressing." Bangalore's police chief suggested that the allegations were fabricated, saying that "no such thing was happening." But both local and international media outlets have spoken to witnesses that back up the initial report by the Bangalore Mirror. Many men have also sought to defend themselves on social media under the hashtag #NotAllMen, garnering further outrage at the impulse to shield themselves from criticism, rather than support the victims of the attack.
Angered by the unhelpful response, the organization Feminism In India tweeted to its followers to share their personal experiences with sexual assault and harassment in public under #YesAllWomen. The hashtag quickly caught on, and the harrowing stories from Indian women point to a fundamental societal ill that advocates are fighting hard to eradicate.
In recent years, rape and sexual assault cases in India have come under intense international scrutiny, with some media outlets dubbing it an "epidemic of sexual violence." Sexism in India has a devastating effect on women, beginning with the high rates of infanticide that contributes to the country's imbalanced gender ratio.
But the dominance of sexism in cultures worldwide isn't new; what's new, rather, is the growing number of movements like #YesAllWomen on social media, where women are increasingly speaking out and fighting hard against the pervasive misogyny they come up against every day.
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