BENGALURU: Citizens For Bengaluru organised a Freeze Mob on January 7, 2016 to condemn the incident of reaimass molestation on New Year's Eve at Brigade Road and MG road, Bangalore.

They were joined by members of the general public who were asked to pledge #ZeroTolerance towards sexual harassment by wearing a big black bindi on their forehead. The female participants were also handed moustaches made of paper with the label ‘Bangalore Safety Kit.’

‘This is a wakeup call for all of us to stop pretending this ugly issue will go away after few days and half our population will no longer live in fear” the organisers said.

The Freeze mob was joined by all sections of society,with the participants standing like statues, motionless, in this protest against the assault on women. And the lack of response from the state government and the police.

Unfortunately the ‘protest’ appeared more like a Public Relations exercise. And what was most surprising was the behaviour of the photo journalists present. Behaving like Hollywood paparazzi, these photographers were pushing their way through the people gathered to take photos - shoving people out of the way, brushing against them and touching them.

Journalists and reporters from various newspapers and TV channels were present – a majority of them men. Only a handful of reporters/ journalists were women, and those present kept away from the crowd of male photographers, to avoid being pushed by the unruly bunch, crowding around groups of people asking them to ‘pose’ for the freeze mob. From the manner in which the participants, organisers and media people were behaving, it appeared as though a show was being put on rather than since condemnation of what had taken place.

When told about how the male photographers were behaving, that too at an event to protest sexual harassment, the response from an organiser was surprising. ‘Really? You should write about it’ she said and walked away.

It is perhaps a good illustration of how men in public spaces feel a sense of entitlement, that they consider it to be okay to push and shove women counterparts in order to do their ‘work’ and that often those calling for the ‘wakeup calls’ tend to distance themselves from the issue when it happens in their presence or an event organised by them.

Until all stakeholders concerned begin to behave in a more conscious, sensitive and mindful manner, the shame and the blame will continue to be on us.

(Manisha Shastri is Assistant Editor with The Citizen)