Rape and Bystander Apathy – The Horrific Incident in Vizag

While the internet was abuzz with #MeToo, and hordes of people from across the world shared their personal stories of sexual harassment, the horrific realities of our society came to the forefront. A 28 year old woman was raped in broad daylight by a 21 year old drug addict, on a busy pavement in Vishakhapatnam, and onlookers did nothing to help her- rather, an autorickshaw driver sitting nearby recorded the incident on his cell phone. With the help of this video, the rapist has been arrested, and the survivor is presently in hospital.

As bizarre as this story sounds, it is a classic example of truth being stranger than fiction. People have plenty to say on podiums and on their social media accounts on crimes against women, but when it comes to practical scenarios, the bystander apathy which they display is deplorable. Instead, people walk away from such incidents, or showcase them on social media.

As an organization working earnestly on reducing crimes against women in various spaces, offline and online, we find this incident repulsive on several levels. The fact that a woman can be harassed in broad daylight in a busy, public space, and not get any significant help, is a horrific reflection of where our society is headed towards. This incident provides a reality check to all of us, to really stand up when women are being subjected to violence. As a society, the need to stop bystander apathy is more relevant today than ever.