The year began badly for women with vigilante attacks by a self-appointed moral police.
K.S. Vimala of the All India Democratic Women’s Association had this take on it:
“Moral policing has always been part of the city’s debate, but there have been strong voices of opposition over the past year. The year witnessed a series of vigilante attacks on women, ambush in clubs and pubs, questions around dressing, the infamous attack on women in a Mangalore pub, the rise of fringe groups that take a moral stand on culture, and the subsequent formation of citizen’s forums to discuss and protest these issues.
“Moral policing is larger than we know it as: it is a question of social attitudes. A huge change in terms of how we view people, especially women, has to come about. What women wear, their occupations — as say, bartenders, and their choices such as going to pubs, should be looked at in the same way we look at these issues when it comes to men.
“For this we need to be part of democratic movements that allow us to look at the issues of moral policing collectively, and not in a one-sided way. The youth can be involved with issues that affect them such as dress codes in colleges, amongst others.
“Of course, education, campaigning and awareness for all strata of society are a must. Whether it is the police themselves, or those who are victims of moral policing, these issues must be discussed in order for us to understand that they are not being done for our ‘well-being’ in the way that it is projected. It is very easy to get swallowed into the propaganda of protecting ‘Indian culture’, thereby allowing moral policing a place in our city or State. The media has an important role too. Acts of moral policing against anybody must be reported, and reasons why these acts are being legitimised should also be brought into focus.
“Finally, we must all invest in electing secular representatives who will form a secular government which will protect us as citizens, despite gender and religion.”