Zaira Wasim alleged molestation incident – Innocent unless proven guilty?

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Zaira Wasim

Zaira Wasim, a 17-year-old actress, famous after her role as a child wrestler in Dangal, made an allegation while on a flight against a fellow middle-aged male passenger, Vikas Sachdeva, for sexual harassment. The actress recorded her sufferings on an Instagram live story. The fans/celebrities and the popular people in politics quickly came to her support. The airline quickly got to the action. The accused was taken into custody and further investigations are going on. The accused pleading innocent, claimed to have unintentionally touched the actress once and quickly apologized. The wife of the accused claimed that the actress was doing this for publicity. The lawyer claimed that the actress did not raise any alarm as to the incident during the flight and even refused for an official complaint to be lodged when asked by the airline crew.

Now, this incident does raise certain questions about the entire system of dealing with crime against women?

  1. Was it a legit accusation? Or Is it really possible that the 17-Year-old actress who hails from a semi-urban town of India, traveling with her mother, may have actually accused some innocent co-passenger for publicity?
  2. Or maybe the co-passenger, claiming to be tired after a relative’s funeral, may have unintentionally touched her more than once and the girl really felt uncomfortable? In that case, a 17-year-old can’t be blamed for being confused as to should an official complaint be lodged or not, Can she?
  3. If it was actually difficult for the girl who is already famous to raise alarms for harassment from a co-passenger, what is the plight of a normal girl without any fame expecting any assurance of safety at any public place?

 

As mentioned above, the whole incident raises a lot of questions, the answers of which would be clear once the investigations are completed. Although the accused man is already in judicial custody, the world of social media already considers him a sex offender & even though he is proven innocent later, he may have already lost his reputation. So it does raise some legit questions as to our approach to the crime against women.

Indian judicial system works on the principle of “Innocent unless proven guilty?” Is it right to deviate from this principle just because the issue at sight is a crime against women. Well, there are 2 sides to this argument:

 

  • This is the same country, the capital city of which is considered the rape capital of the world. This is the same country, where the rape cases are not registered simply because of muscle power. And this is also the same country where the women have to face harassment (Sexual or otherwise) on an everyday basis. So having special safeguards to a crime against women is not unreasonable.

 

  • But this is also the same country, where the fake rape accusations and the false harassment cases are coming to limelight more than ever in the past.

 

Perhaps the girl who is already famous and in a better position to raise concerns about something disturbing happening to her, because of her fame, would have opted to be louder and prompt in her protest against any harassment happening to her? Or maybe it was just not enough to get her the publicity she craves for? Only time will tell.

 

But if this accusation turns out to be false, would this not make it more difficult for women who genuinely face harassment as everyone around them would first question whether it’s just another false accusation instead of helping her?