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Last Updated Saturday August 18 2018 08:31 AM IST

Has Holi become an excuse to harass women?

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466891864, Has Holi become an excuse to harass women? In the run-up to Holi this year, there were complaints from women that they had been attacked with balloons filled with semen. Photo: iStock Images

The vibrant colours of Holi may have settled down, leaving revellers with happy memories, but the harassment of many of Delhi's women, especially those who have moved to the city from elsewhere, has left behind scars that refuse to fade.

In the run-up to Holi this year, there were complaints from women that they had been attacked with balloons filled with semen.

The first such attack that gained eyeballs was flagged by Lady Shri Ram College student Tolino Chishi, who wrote about being attacked before Holi on her social media profile.

Chishi, who is from the Northeast, recalled how she was harassed on the streets of Delhi. She was in a rickshaw when a balloon filled with some kind of liquid hit her hard.

It hit me on the hip where it burst open, its content seeping into my dress," she said.

On March 1, another student, Ghazala Rasheed -- originally from Patna and now in Delhi -- related on her social media page an incident of Holi harassment.

"I'll never forget this in my life. Today a bunch of ruffians attacked me and my friend ...with water balloons on our face," she wrote.

Her left ear was hurt, her nose started bleeding and face swelled up, Rasheed wrote.

"When my friend called the police they were reluctant (to help)," she said.

It's not that women who are long-time residents of Delhi are spared such violent balloon attacks. But many who have come to the city in recent years are new to being harassed in public in the garb of a festival.

And several of them have been protesting in public or on the social media about such acts.

Students of Delhi colleges also took out protest marches last week on Holi hooliganism.

Has Holi become an excuse to harass women?

Avidha from Kolkata complained that she was hit with a balloon filled with semen on the day before the festival, which was on March 2 this year.

"Though I did not go for a medical test, the contents of the balloon that burst on my dress were sticky. It was disgusting," she said.

Purnima (name changed) recalled how she was attacked by a group of men. The first year student of Daulat Ram College, who came to Delhi from Madhya Pradesh, said she was suddenly bombarded with balloons.

"Then the gang grinned at us and went away saying, "Bura na mano holi hai (don't mind, it's Holi). The balloon really hurt me," she said.

Purnima said she called a women's helpline number.

"But they just responded by consoling us," she said.

Another student, Gouri (name changed), said she was shocked to get an indifferent response from a woman who lived in a house in Amar Colony from where balloons were thrown at her.

"Just like we cannot stop people from burning crackers during Diwali, we cannot stop people from throwing balloons during Holi," the woman resident was seen telling Gouri in a video which the student shared with PTI.

Delhi University student Shalu Mishra, who was among those attacked in the Amar Colony incident, however, said the attackers did not look out for migrant students.

"It does not matter if it is a local or migrant. Its not a gender crime either, as some women also attack others," she said.

It has to be hammered into people's heads that they cannot fling balloons at people, she said.

"There is need for sensitisation. People have to stop doing this not just because it's a crime, but because it is wrong," Mishra said.

Read: Women Issues | Maharashtra to start counseling helpline for women from March 8

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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