Week Rewind: ‘Public Indecency’ – Mumbai Police Raid in Hotels

The women hiding from the press while being escorted by Mumbai police.

Imagine this: You’re going to get married next month, and you and your fiancee are out on a date. Things get a little bit ‘heated’ and you decide to retire to a hotel room for a little privacy. You check into the hotel under your name, and just as things get started, police bursts into your room and drag you out as if you are a common criminal and put you behind bars. For what, you may ask in anger. Their answer: ‘Public Indecency’.

This is exactly what happened in Mumbai two days ago. On the orders of a DCP raid, police officials raided hotels in Madh Island and Aska, and arrested almost 40 couples, under the offence of ‘Public Indecency’. They were in custody for 5 hours, and were let go after paying a fine of Rs. 1200.

Some of them who were college students, were even made to call their parents, and a 19 year old is contemplating suicide because of her parent’s hostile reaction towards her after the incident.

I am literally contemplating ending my life because of the trauma and the stigma from the raid. I haven’t been able to step out of the house and my parents have also not spoken a single word to me since this morning.

They were all filed under Section 110 (Indecent behavior in public).

The definition of ‘public indecency’ is indecent acts which are performed in a public place like a garden or a mall. Definitely, a private hotel room does not come into the list of public places. In a country where a woman has been assaulted and also sometimes raped in public, it is completely ironic for the police to be making arrests for this offence.

India has always been conservative in matters of public displays of affection. Love is frowned upon due to our traditions, and god forbid anyone is romantic in public. The number of judging looks is immeasurable. But in a hotel room, away from the privy eyes, if there are two consenting adults, the police have no right to arrest them. Rather, the hotels should have been fined, for allowing acts of prostitution and sex rackets to take place under their roof.

If being in the privacy of a hotel room is public indecency, then every couple in the country should be arrested for sleeping on their beds in their home as well.

Just because they have the power to, doesn’t mean the police should arrest someone for any unrelated offence. Public stunts like these cause a lot of criticism and it shows the still orthodox thinking of the Indian society. Progression is good, but it’s the mindset that needs to change as well.

 

Author: Aishwarya Rao

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