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Posted at: Aug 11, 2017, 12:11 AM; last updated: Aug 11, 2017, 12:11 AM (IST)

Dangerous trail

Stalking is no stroll in park
Dangerous trail
Ever since the Varnika Kundu stalking case has hit the headlines, disquieting murmurs have emanated from certain quarters. Those who have deluded themselves into thinking that the outrage against the culprits is much ado about nothing would perhaps need to be told that another young girl, all of 17, has fallen prey to her stalkers. Murdered allegedly by four boys from her village in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh, the victim's family has claimed that she had been being stalked and harassed for more than six months. Her death, as that of others like Priyadarshini Mattoo before her, once again proves that stalking is not merely a ‘boy-chasing-girl’ thing as Union minister Babul Supriyo has made this out to be. 

Stalking is a crime, hence punishable with a jail term of up to three years and includes unwanted phone calls and email hacking. Tragically, each time a  case of woman harassment comes up, it not only becomes a grim reminder of how unsafe women are, but also bares societal prejudices entrenched in feudal mindsets. While men like Supriyo try to find justification in its rampant existence in real and reel life, many misguided Romeos confuse it with romance and wooing. Other misogynists try to cow down the sufferer by blatant victim shaming all the while spreading canards. 

Varnika's courage in coming out in the open to take on her tormentors might be a one-off example. However, it is an emphatic reminder that girls will not take it lying down anymore. The arrest of Vikas Barala and Ashish Kumar may be a small step in her battle, given the working of our judicial system. The legal battle is likely to be grueling and protracted. Massive support that is coming her way from many quarters is in itself a matter of satisfaction and a signal that women are no longer willing to settle for the status quo. They are demanding change and driving it as well. For once, the politically connected accused has been made to hide his face and not the victim her identity.

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