Life's Like That

Monday, December 19, 2005


Pratibha Shrikanth Murthy was probably like any other woman in the city. Newly married, happy with life,one among the thousands that comprise the BPO workforce in Bangalore. Till one night, the driver of her cab decided to take a detour instead of taking her to office and rape and kill her. A bright young life snuffed out just like that because of one man's perversion.
I don't know what to write really. A lot has been written about the case in the newspapers. I don't even know where to begin. The overwhelming feeling at this stage is one of utter shock. That and "it could have been anyone...even me". I don't work in a call centre, I dont need to go to office at 2 a.m. I do however have to attend late evening events that go on till late night. If the event goes on till very late we are encouarged to hire cabs instead of going home by autos. So much safer than autos you see. God! It could have happened to any one of my friends and colleagues. My friend SR used to handle all sorts of events that would go on till very late and she would always take a cab back home which is beyond the back of nowhere. It could have been her. It could have been me or RS on our way home from the client party just a month back. Scary isnt it? All the more so because it happened to a call centre employee. ..arent call centres supposed to have all these really great security measures like pick ups and drop etc to ensure the safety of thweir workforce?? Organsations like mine have no such rule...if this could happen to a call centre employee, what are the chances of it happening to someone who works a job like mine?
What do we do now? We cannot stop working or attending these events. Forget events, what about life outside of work?? Should we stop going out after work because someone somewhere might be mentally sick and hell bent on rape and murder?
The Bangalore police issued a statement yesterday(appeared in TOI Page 7, dont have the clip right now) in which they suggest a broad code of conduct for the city's women. And guess what tops the list? Yep!! You got it right: "Dress decently", . It always always ALWAYS boils down to that doesnt it?? Can someone please please tell me what constitutes "decent dressing"? I have no idea, since women clad in burkhas are not necessarily spared the torture of rape. The Bangalore police went on to elucidate that their suggestions were by no means any attempts at moral policing, just genuine concern for the city's female population and an attempt to explain to us that drivers and such like belong to a certain socioeconomic background where "free mixing between the sexes" and "certain modes of dressing" can lead to unacceptable behaviour (or words to that effect). BULLSHIT!!! How indecently can a woman going to work be dressed?? Call centre or not Im sure employees cant walk into work dressed in micro minis and bikini tops!! How long, just how long will this "dress decently to avoid being molested" attitude persist?
People whose opinion I used to respect have said things to the effect of "Why do these girls need to go out at all odd hours of the night to work anyways? What kind of a job is it?" Without trying to defend the call centre culture and the associated odd hours, I hardly think thats the question oen should be asking right now. how can so called educated so called liberated peoplwe ask such stupid questions? The question here is of overall security for women. Judging from all reports, HP failed miserably to ensure the safety of its employee. Consider this:
  • This guy was not the regular driver. He arrived a little before time and said that the regular driver was ill and he was substituting. There was no intimation from HP to Pratibha on the same. Apparantly there was no such system.
  • The regulard river arrived only to find Pratibha going away in another car. He called her and was told that a substitute had picked her up.
  • The regular driver called the HP desk and reported this. However noone from HP got in touch with Pratibha's family till late evening despite the fact that after being picked up by a different driver she had not reported in for work.
  • Apparantly this guy, Shivakumar had tried the same trick on some other women who had refused to go with him. He apparantly had a list of women employees and their contact details..a list of potential victims..this is probably the most serious breach of security yet.
  • Apparantly Shivakumar had a record of misbehaviour, yet he was not taken off the commuter service.

Its a case of shocking negligence and callousness. Yet most people seem to be more concerned with the working hours of call centres which(apparantly) lead to such crimes.

A lot of hue and cry is happening over the security (or lack of it) of BPO employees. My point is...its not just BPO's...its every woman everywhere who is at risk. It does not even have to be late at nite for an incident like this to occur. Call centres are apparantly beefing up security.How about the rest of us who dont work erratic hours in call centres? Who have regular jobs which sometimes require us to return home late at night? Or what about those of us who just want to go for a late night movie or go to pub after work? What should we do?

I dont know what the solution is. I do know that the Bangalore Police cannot be trusted to help. Its each to her own now. I for one will start taking the car when I have to go for late night events. Or insist on being dropped home by a male colleague or a friend. And hope and pray I reach home safe and sound.


  • What a coincidence! Me and my flatmates were discussing this very event here on sunday nite! (2 of my flatmates are from Bangalore, hence the discussion was all the more animated...). Actually its the enforcement that has to be beefed up. We in society are to blame. A raped woman will find the strength to pick up the pieces and move on...we as society members will never let her...we will allow the stigma to drag on for ever and ever. With simultaneous enforcement and society support for the victim, this malaise can be reduced, if not completely eradicated. True though, night shift BPO workers were always an easy target!! Something should have been done about it earlier...stricter security measures as you say...shameful.

    By Blogger Abhishek Chatterjee, at 6:33 AM  

  • Gosh I am shocked. This is the first time I am reading about the incident(my fault) and it shocks me, and makes me feel helpless. I really wish there was some solution that could make women fel safer in general. But there isn't. Dressing "decently" is the least of my worries. But what if someone does not have a car, or a brother or male friend who can accompany her? What if she does not have choice but to work odd hours? I went to grad school in a city which was renowned for it's crime and everyday we would get University mail from the police dept saying never to venture on the campus by yourself once it was dark. There were hundreds of incidents of molestation and rape. And guys would get beaten up and robbed. There is no sure shot way of making a place safe and very little we can do to keep ourselves safe. I guess your best bet would be to pray. isn't that utterly ridiculous?

    By Blogger M (tread softly upon), at 1:29 PM  

  • ron, its sad but true and pretty universal. its basic human nature, it seems, to blame the woman if a man attacks her. i thought that only in our world do we have concepts such as these, but coming to uk i realised, its prevalent here too. rape victims are usually said to have invited it. even today when men have extra marital affairs the woman is supposed to have led him astray. even today, a girl who is 'friendly' is instanty labelled a slut. even today, if u are trying to dress up or look good people - in different ways, tones, degrees think / say that it is to impress / 'catch' men. sad, but true. and universal. and unchanging. we cant run away from it. as long as sex lives and we are 'human' with all the implications and shades of meaning that this implies ... these things, the basic premise, will carry on.

    By Blogger Prerona, at 3:24 PM  

  • @abhishek:someone remarked yesterday "why did this guy have to kill her?" and i was left wondering what her life would have been like if he had raped her and left her to face the world at large. i cant help buty wonder how all those grieving relatives would have reacted to her...sounds harsh doesnt it? but such is the state of the world today, the victim will be victimised forever and never be allowed to move on with her life.

    @ m: noone is safe really. and honestly at the end of the day you have to go about ensuring your i dont know..move in groups, get someone you know to drop you home(or in my case stay over at a friend's place instead of coming hoem late at night) carry pepper spray...and yeah...hope and pray for the best.

    @prerona: this post of mine is very similar to the previous one on molestation etc isnt it? you told me then about how attitudes in the UK are no different from attitudes here. sometimes i really feel that being born a woman can be a tragedy, because even if your own family doesnt make you feel bad about being a woman, the rest of the world will.

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:30 PM  

  • The solution is straight forward and simple. this man must be hanged to death. no questions asked. change the law if necessary. The Frequency of these incidents will eventually fall back.

    This shit has been going on for faar too long now. We need the mindset of a dictator to destroy those whose minds are weak. This man must be hanged, mercilessly and shown live on TV. For the whole race of men to realise that death is the only punishment for those who kill.

    Is somebody listening ???

    By Blogger death, at 10:31 PM  

  • @death: i do agree with the death penalty being a good way of punishing criminals like this. but the idea of telecasting it live etc are a tad too violent i feel.

    By Blogger Ron, at 12:30 AM  

  • hee hee :P

    By Blogger death, at 3:13 AM  

  • well think as the pleasurable it would have been.
    isn't it.......

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:22 PM  

  • Anonymous....u prick, ur mind is about as sick as it can get.
    Think as the driver ?
    Think as the girl, you fornicating baboon. If you have got the pictures of the dead girl in a forwarded mail, as many of us got today, it would probably facilitate that thinking.
    Just think - how nice it would be to have your throat slit.....hope it happens to you someday.
    By the way, when you give your enlightening thoughts, why not drop in your name ?

    By Blogger Soham Pablo, at 10:42 PM  

  • i agree with death that he should be given a death penality and it should be for the whole world to see how this man suffers and begs for pardon. Although telecating live will be a greusome idea but people should know that such things deserve greater punishment than just death and that should be out for the world to see.

    Anonymous: Trust me I am sure the driver has had enought of these worldy pleasures to be actually tempted to do such a things that too someone who has not even provoked him. He is just mentally sick and so are you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:46 PM  

  • You know, I was going somewhere in an auto a few days back, and the driver kept talking about this incident all the way. How it made him sick and how women were not safe anywhere. I was just waiting for it, and he was predictable enough to say 'aajkal to ladkiyan aise kapde pehenti hain', but what suprised me was the viciousness with which he said it, the way he implied that girls who dress 'like that' invite this sort of trouble, even deserve it maybe.

    In the light of that, I can probably understand if the Bangalore govt feels that to a certain socio-economic class, dressing 'like that' and inviting rape are one and the same thing, or at least cause and effect. It's sad but true.

    I'm not saying all girls should promptly start dressing modestly and I get your point about how immodestly a woman going for work could have been dressed, but I can understand what the government diktat is trying to say. That there are many layers in our society today, and to the ones who cannot comprehend the changes urban India is undergoing as well as we can, drawing the most unpleasant conclusions is very easy. And that is what they do most of the time, like my sympathetic autowalla.

    By Blogger The Marauder's Map, at 11:14 PM  

  • @anonymous: WOW! i had heard that some men actually think on these lines, and now i have proof. am honestly at a loss for words. how do u manage to live with yourself?? on second thoughts, if this comment was meant to shock and horrify then a)it has served the purpose, congratulations and b) you have just proved how sick and immature you are. grow up. i sincerely hope noone close to you has to go through soemthing like this for you to realize the horror of it. (although, on a very violent note..maybe it wouldnt be a bad idea for YOU to be on the receiving end of sodomy etc....)

    I am tempted to disable anonymous comemnts on my blog because it seems to give sick immature disgusting and cowardly people like you the perfect opportunity to hide behind the nameless label and talk absolute crap. but that would mean cutting out some of my non blogger friends who like reading and commenting sensibly. therefore, anonymous comments shall continue, but please understand you are NOT WELCOME on my blog. Kindly do not use this platform to show the world how disgusting you are.

    Hope to never see you here again.

    @Soham: thanks man...i honestly didnt know how to reply to this one.

    @rahul: no no telecasting live is really too much. but death penalty..yeah..must agree with you on that one. as for anonymous here...sicko..i hope he doesnt come back.

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:21 PM  

  • Guys can we have the anonymous person's IP address tracked and go across and slit his throat? I would love to do the honours..Ron..what say?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:21 PM  

  • @marauder's map: you know, we were discussing this just the other day in office and my colleague made a very good point. she said that while obviously stupid to think that only indecently dressed women get raped/molested, it is true that chances of people staring/passing comments/molesting are higher if you are wearing something revealing and walking about on the roads or using some mode of public transport. i guess she has a point. but the problem is what exactly is "revealing"? to me its bikini tops and micro minis and really low low waist jeans. to my sister low waist jeans are just cool and hep, to my mother is short tops, to the average man on the road i suppose it sleeveless clothes.

    as i was telling my sister the other day, wear tiny clothes if you must, but please have the sense to cover up if you need to use public transport or walk around on the roads..dont give the pervs any excuse for taking any liberties with you.

    @bijoy: why risk jail and all by killing a pathetic creature like this?

    By Blogger Ron, at 11:33 PM  

  • I guess you should do away with anon comments ron. There are sickos all over the place and people like this who make this world such a nightmare at times.

    By Blogger M (tread softly upon), at 6:28 AM  

  • It is sad to see my home city become unsafe for women. I am not defending the police but there is only so much a thinly stretched force (ordered to do riduculos things like raiding live bands)could do.

    About the death penalty, I don't think it is a deterrent.

    By Blogger Anil, at 3:38 PM  

  • @m: im very tempted to you know, er aageo some idiot has tried to act very smart thanks to the anonymous thing. but some friends of mine like to read and comment even though they are not bloggers themselves, and they dont want me to disable this...dekhi if it gets too much then i guess i wont have choice but to...

    @anil: hi, and welcome to my blog. the saddest part about bangalore right now is that the city that was once soo amazing to live in has absolutely no saving grace now. no infrastructure, no resources, rapidly losing its stronghold on the IT industry and now to top everything no security either. i dont know what the police force is busy doing, i guess it is not possible for 2000 odd people to safeguard the entire population (although it is their job), but their callousness is very difficult to handle. if you read my old posts theres one where i talked about this guy misbehaving with me on a crowded road in plain view of the cop whop meerly looked away instead of taking him to task...thats totally unacceptable!! cops today are more concerned with whetehr or not the person can speak kannada, if you can then well...i guess they will help you fight off auto drivers, ever teasers etc, and if you cant...then they will not only not help you, they will also side with the other party!! its disgusting and shameful.

    By Blogger Ron, at 9:21 PM  

  • Hi,

    Its so sick to say that girls bring about these incidents upon themselves by wearing 'indecent' clothes. As a guy, it is extremely disgusting,embarassing and enraging for me to hear this theory given to explain these things. B*****ds.

    How can anyone even think of saying that "she got raped coz she was 'indecently' dressed, you know. That guy had no other option but to rape her. What else can the poor man do. He can't really be expected to be decent and control his urges. It's male nature!!".

    Sick people!!


    By Blogger Nilesh, at 1:56 AM  

  • @nilesh: agree with you 100%. its disgusting...but its also a fact of life that this attitude of blaming the victim will continue unabated.sad, but true.

    welcome to my blog btw.

    By Blogger Ron, at 2:40 AM  

  • Oh God, how does the police department forget the rape of the completely burqa clad Imrana, or Bilkis Bano, and thousands others? I am so sick and tired of such archaic views. I am a so-called sober dresser, wearing salwar suits of full sleeved shirts, and that does not stop people from groping on the bus. I remember one of my most frightening experiences during my earliest days in Kolkata. I took a cab from Camac Street to Lake gardens, where my Pg was, at about 7:30 pm. The distance should have taken only 30 minutes, but being tired, I didn't notice for quite some time that the perv kept on cycling RamKrishna Mission Seva Protisthan. When I did notice at 8:15 pm, I asked him to stop the cab and he would not. I screamed, some boys stopped the cab, the cabbie fled. I wonder what would have happened if those boys hadn't helped me. Ultimately, every woman alone in a alien city has to look after herself, but when one is confronted by a closet-psycho like Pratibha's driver, there is very less one can do. The society and the police are not concerned about safety measures, because the onus is always on the woman. I agree with the death punishment, just as I supported Dhananjoy Chatterjee's hanging. There is no other punishment for such crimes. i shiver to think of those other women who had a lucky escape from the psycho. And Ron, thank you for highlighting such issues and dealing with them so sensitively. And better disable anonymous comments on your blog.
    Anonymous: Think of how the taxi-driver will feel when he is being hanged to death. Sheez, go and kill yourself, why don't you?

    By Blogger i dwell in possibility, at 2:45 AM  

  • @gmm:gawd! thats very scary. ekhaane toh keu help o kore na. i totally agree with you on the death penalty. thats the only way to punish such creeps. i shall continue with anonymous comments right now, because of my non blogger friends...beshi barabari holey i shall disable it.

    By Blogger Ron, at 4:27 AM  

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