“How can a 17-year-old child be harassed, and that too in the business class when she was travelling with her mother? Is no one safe anywhere? Even while Zaira was subjected to this humiliation, a five-year-old girl in Haryana was raped, murdered and wood inserted into her private parts! Have we as a civilisation lost all sense of decency? Now, children are molesting children! No one is safe. You can be five or 85, you are a potential victim of sex crimes,” laments Tannishtha Chatterjee, who reveals that she has gone through her own mid-air trauma.
“But there is a difference. I am much older and a far more experienced woman. No one can misbehave with me and get away with it. I’d slap the s**t out of the creep!” she asserts, adding, “I could handle the lout who misbehaved with me. Zaira being a child was completely lost in the situation. The fact that the cabin crew did not help her has to do with the passengers’ hierarchy. Both Zaira and the alleged molester were travelling business class. To the crew, this meant that both were from a privileged class and had to be treated carefully. The presumption that sexual predators come from the underprivileged class probably works in mid-air too. If this had happened in economy class, the offender would’ve been dealt with differently.”
Speaking of her experience, the Parched actress recounts, “Even before the flight took off, this man, a co-passenger seated next to me, was acting smart. I shouted for help. When the crew came, I told them to find another seat for the man or for me. They mumbled that I should adjust. This is once again a case of business class hierarchy. But I insisted that either he be removed or me.”
Tannishtha feels offender-shaming is very important. “When something like this happens, speak up immediately. Create a scene. Post a video on social media. Let the world know what’s happened,” she says, while praising Zaira for her courage. “I am glad Zaira has spoken up. I am utterly ashamed of a society that can’t protect its women and children. Zaira is from the privileged class and was travelling business class. And this happened! I shudder to think what working girls from the middle class go through every day on buses, trains and auto-rickshaws,” says Tannishtha.