Two sisters in India are being lauded for hitting and attacking two men on a bus that approached them with lewd comments, while fellow passengers warned the girls not to resist their harassment lest they be attacked with acid.
The Associated Press reports the women were traveling to classes at Rohtak Government College on the bus in Haryana, in the north of the country, when the men approached them. The incident occurred on a crowded bus, but none of the passengers defended the women. One passenger filmed the dramatic incident, which has been circulating on Indian television and rekindling the discussion on ending harassment and violence against women in a nation that has attracted an international spotlight over a pervasive rape and sexual harassment problem.
The AP notes that the incident occurred on Friday, and police had arrested three men related to the incident by Sunday.
The girls, who have attracted international acclaim for fighting back, spoke to the Daily Mail, have been identified as Pooja and Aarti Kumar, students at the aforementioned college. They told the British newspaper that they face such harassment “on a daily basis” and, having had their patience exhausted the moment the same group of boys “started misbehaving with a pregnant woman,” took matters into their own hands, explained the younger Pooja. “We really thought to these guys a lesson and beat them up,” she explained. “We wanted to show that we girls are not weak and capable to defending ourselves. We really wanted to kick them.”
The girls note that, after the video was taken, they were “thrown off” the bus by the assailants.
The incident calls to attention the pervasive problem of violence and disrespect against women in India, which female activists have struggled for years to bring to the fore. In a particularly harrowing incident in May of this year, two teenaged girls were found raped and hanged on a tree in Uttar Pradesh, triggering a wave of protests. The incident followed remarks by a socialist party leader calling for the victims of rape to be given the death penalty.
But the daily reality can be equally as dangerous to women– a study last year found that one woman in India was being killed every hour over dowry payments; another found 60 million women were missing without a trace nationwide. In a more recent incident, a mass sterilization effort left dozens of women either dead of severely injured, after doctors found equipment being used on multiple women without being sterilized.