A video of two sisters using their belts and fists to fend off sexual harassers on a moving bus in Rohtak, India, has gone viral, sparking a renewed public debate about sexual harassment and women's rights in India:
The young women were 22-year-old Arti Kumar and her 19-year-old sister Pooja, who told BBC Hindi that "the men started to abuse me and touch me. I told them 'if you touch me again, you'll get beaten up.' They called a friend on the phone and told him to 'come over because we have to beat up some girls.'"
When none of the other passengers came to their aid, Pooja said, she and her sister were forced to take matters into their own hands. "No one came forward in the bus to help us. So we took out our belts in self-defence [and hit the men]. If only the other passengers had helped us, we would not have needed to retaliate in this way."
The incident was filmed by another passenger, a pregnant woman who told the Times of India that she had also been harassed by the men involved, and that she helped the two sisters file a criminal complaint after they were thrown off of the bus while it was still moving.
When the video was posted online, it quickly went viral, inspiring the twitter hashtag #RohtakBravehearts. ("Braveheart" is the English translation of Nirbhaya, the name the media gave to the Delhi woman who was gang-raped on a moving bus in 2012 and later died of her injuries, prompting a nationwide protest movement against sexual violence in India.)
Law & govt of india.. Plz dont let us down. Give the molesters what they deserve quickly & the #RohtakBravehearts justice. #girlrising— Freida Pinto (@BecauseImFreida) December 1, 2014
2 yrs ago it was Nirbhaya in a bus Today the #RohtakBravehearts. Nothing's changed except girls hitting back harder pic.twitter.com/9Tv6c94sQg— Akash Banerjee (@akashbanerjee) November 30, 2014
What happened in Rohtak is a story many women relate to. We've all been there. #RohtakBravehearts show us why we musn't be silent. @ibnlive— Neha Poonia (@NehaPoonia) December 1, 2014
Many commenters were particularly outraged at the bystanders' failure to intervene on the young women's behalf:
Disgraceful for boys & men(BIG 0s) 2 be mere spectators while the #RohtakSisters (REAL HEROS) fought of their attackers #RohtakBravehearts— Anil kumar (@simbamara) December 1, 2014
Am angry at the molestors that disgusting pigs who molested the girls bt angrier tat the entire bus is silently watchn on #Rohtakbravehearts— Sharanya (@Sharanyashettyy) November 30, 2014
The young women will receive a cash award from the Haryana state government. Their three attackers have reportedly been arrested, and the driver and conductor of the bus on which the attack occurred have been suspended.