The murder of 25-year-old Pallavi Purkayastha confirmed one thing for me: women in India are all alone as far as their personal safety is concerned. We simply cannot trust anyone. And I hate to be so grim on a Monday morning, but the tragedy is that trusting yourself is not enough to guarantee your safety either.
Here’s why I say this: Most human interactions are based on trust. When you see that trust being violated, again and again and again, you realise that you really cannot put your life or personal safety in another’s hands by trusting them.
Take the Purkayastha case. The young lawyer was in her own bed in her own house, in a posh and outwardly secure housing society that employed security guards. And she was still murdered. Now, when I read reports that maybe it would have helped if the society’s CCTVs were working, I want to throw up. No, it wouldn’t have helped. She would have probably been murdered earlier if the security guard. who is accused of murdering her. had access to CCTV footage of those who entered and exited her house, and when. Purkayastha trusted the guard which is why she allowed him and the electrician entry into her home past midnight. She trusted the society to ensure her security. Her trust was violated.
The IIT-Bombay case is another example of a breach of trust. Last week, a 28-year-old female Phd student was found drugged in the room of a non-academic senior staff member. Reports say the student was uncomfortable with the 57-year-old staffer’s interest in her and had even avoided the badminton court, where she usually met him, for a few days because of that. When she met him once again, she only agreed to a coffee at his home after he mentioned his wife was present. That was a lie. It’s not clear what happened in that room since the student refused to undergo a physical examination to ascertain if she had been sexually assaulted, but she will probably spend the rest of her life regretting that she trusted this man.
The third case is one that makes me sick to my bones 10 years after I read about it. Three grown and able men, one of them a journalist, were one of five people in a suburban train compartment late at night. A few feet away from these three men, a drunk man was sexually assaulting a mentally challenged girl. Not one of them intervened. These grown and able men later told the cops they were afraid to intervene because the drunk had threatened them. What is the violation of trust here? It is surely right for at least the young, the weak and the helpless to trust those more able than them to come to their aid when in trouble. In this case, and from whatever I’ve seen and read over the past many years, absolutely no one can count on that.