As Bengal Goes to Polls, Will Women Be Safe Under Mamata Di?

A university student in Kolkata alleged on last Sunday that she had been assaulted and abused for wearing shorts and smoking by some men returning from a poll rally of the “ruling party”.
The incident occurred when she and her male friend – a student of the same university – were returning home (to Gandhi Colony in Netaji Nagar), when they chose to halt at a place near her home for a smoke. Suddenly, six men returning from a political rally –allegedly a TMC one – accosted them and demanded an explanation as to why she was wearing shorts and puffing a cigarette. Abuse and assault followed. Police, however, said that so far there was no proof of a political link.
The incident caused a flutter when the girl posted the entire ‘experience’ on her Facebook wall – the post naturally going viral within seconds.
In a few days from now, Bengal is looking at a decisive electoral mandate as several sections of the State have already gone into active polling. And yet one can’t help but wonder: what happens to women’s safety and who takes the responsibility for a woman’s body here?
What ‘poriborton’ will ensure women – be it in villages or in the heart of Kolkata – are not sexually violated? West Bengal’s deteriorating law and order situation has proved a major embarrassment for Mamata Banerjee – and one wonders if she will actually insist on an infrastructural and judicial re-haul that rests on speedy justice and fast tracking of rape cases.
Will she desist from shouting “shajano ghatona” (‘conspiracy’) every time a woman is molested?  Or will she exhibit the same ennui each time a sexual crime is reported, despite being a woman leader who banks largely on female votes to win a majority?
As women in Bengal shun their social purdah and come out to occupy their rightful place, as Kolkata streets see more women in skimpy clothes, lighting up with ease and ordering Ola’s in the dead of the night – will they constantly have to look back over their shoulders in trepidation?
Not be touched, tantalised and tormented?
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