A new year… A new beginning… New hopes and new dreams… But unfortunately, for women in this country, there was a terrifying and rude start to the year. Welcome to the 21st century where we still have men disrespecting women at every corner of the country and not only that… The blame is put on the women for that.

You see: Women must remain indoors and not even think about partying or celebrating or having fun or enjoying themselves. That right only belongs to a ‘man’ apparently. We wake up hear how Bangalore started the New Year on a horrifying note with the mass molestation of women on the streets of the city on New Year's eve.

What is scary is the fact that this happened in Bangalore which is supposedly one of our ‘safer’ cities for women. What is even worse is that no one stopped them. It’s been five days and no one has caught the perpetrators as yet. No one has been held responsible and the blame game has conveniently shifted to the woman as usual. This is what our cities have become for women – a nightmare and nothing short of that.

It appears that the police and local administration need to be reminded time and again about their obligations and duties to provide law and order and safety to all its citizens. But yet again, the government is dithering on investigating these crimes and Bangalore now becomes the next city on the long list of cities unsafe for women in India.

It is still fresh in my mind that during the tragic Nirbhaya episode, politicians and bureaucrats rushed to deflect the attention from the crime with their cheap tactics and the same is now being done in this case with the crass and insensitive statements being made by politicians. These indefensible statements blaming women for their dress sense and every other conceivable reason to blame the victims for the crimes committed on them is despicable.

The end result is that no one wants to take responsibility for the crime that has occurred. Women must fend for themselves – that is the bottom line. In reality, there should be zero tolerance when it comes to crimes of any nature – be it children, women or the elderly but the government has time and again failed in its duties in every respect.

Be it Delhi, Bombay or Bangalore – it seems that women have no right to have fun or experience the simple joys of bringing in the New Year. Instead they must be ready to face the horrors of being accosted, teased, groped at, being molested, harassed or have their modesty outraged.

Our law makers and politicians then come out with the most ludicrous statements that reflect the way they think: "these things do happen" is an acceptable explanation of women being molested in masse at a public celebration of New Year’s Eve. And another dispensed the argument that if women, unaccompanied by their fathers or husbands, mingle with other men, "it is wrong to expect them to treat her with respect...if there is sugar somewhere, ants will come." Shouldn’t these uncouth men be punished for even suggesting that it is the way women dress that is to blame for the mass sex attack in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve?

You see in this country: It is never a man’s fault. It is always the woman who is to blame. And when things go wrong we blame the western culture. Very conveniently, the onus lies on the woman for dressing provocatively, or the situation being provoked by a woman, or how modern women are uncontrollable.

It makes my blood boil to read and hear such statements. We need a radical change in our society. We need our men to think differently. We need families to educate their boys and men on how to treat their girls and women. A society which commits atrocities on their weaker members is not only uncivilized but also underdeveloped. The brutalities done on women by men are not their sign of strength by they are construed as the sign of their weakness which they are camouflaging.

History has proven the fact that the societies and civilisations which haven't respected rights and safety of women have perished badly. I firmly believe that respect and safety of women are the basic foundations of a society. It is imperative that if a community is not providing equal rights to women and if women are bereft of basic freedom, there cannot be an ounce of progress in that society.

It hindsight… The answer is not very complicating. All that needs to be done is to teach our men how to respect women in our society. Men and woman must be treated equally in the eyes of the society to make this world a better and safer place to live in.

(Cover Photograph: screen shot of CCTV footage of a woman being molested in Bengaluru)