The video of an alleged groper on a flight got 4.5 million hits on YouTube (screenshot: Firstpost)
Indian women armed with smartphones are using social media to fight sexual harassment by filming and publicly shaming the men who allegedly molest them.
In the latest incident, a young woman used her mobile phone to confront the man sitting behind her on an airline flight who tried to grope her between the seats. She filmed her rebuke of him in front of the other passengers. The video, posted on YouTube this week, went viral with over 4.5 million hits on Thursday.
"Because I’m a girl, and you have the right to touch me anytime, anywhere you want to?" the woman yells at the middle-aged man, who tries to cover his face with his hand. He eventually responds, saying he is sorry and asking for forgiveness, watched by other passengers disembarking the plane.
Upon landing in Bhubaneswar the victim lodged a complaint with the airline crew and local police, according to the airline’s statement.
The trend to name-and-shame sex offenders reflects the growing anger over gender violence in India where women are frequently sexually harassed in public and on transportation.
The turning point was the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi in December 2012. The incident sparked public protests and led to a national debate about the security of women. This has encouraged victims to come forward to use smartphones to expose perpetrators.
According to Reuters, there is also growing interest in safety apps with SOS buttons to alert contacts and websites to report sexual harassment.
"A video is a weapon that scares patriarchy. The proof…is mostly undeniable," wrote Piyasree Dasgupta on Firstpost. "It pins a man down for his crimes with little scope of escape."
The video is the latest of several incidents caught on camera by victims, their friends, and bystanders that show women are standing up to the aggressors.
Two sisters in the city of Rohtak hit the headlines last November when a video taken by other passengers showed them fighting with three young men who harassed them on a bus in Haryana.
Another video from Bangalore in August showed a female jogger chasing a man who was sexually harassing her, catching up with him and forcing him to the ground. She kicks him and tells him to "get lost".
The same month, in Uttar Pradesh, a video showing girls slapping an aggressor in a local market went viral.
Since the 2012 gangrape in Delhi, the government has tightened laws for crimes against women and introduced tougher penalties, but many women say they feel no safer, according to a recent poll in the Hindustan Times.