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AintNoCinderella

Indian women fight victim-blaming with #AintNoCinderella

After a politician claimed that a woman who was stalked and almost kidnapped just shouldn’t have been out alone at night, people are shutting him down online

Women across social media in India have been hitting out at a male politician who asked why a victim of stalking was “out so late at night” – hundreds of women have posted pictures of themselves out past midnight with the hashtag #AintNoCinderella.

Varnika Kundu from Chandigarh, Haryana, detailed the incident she experienced in the early hours of Saturday morning in a Facebook post. She wrote that two men chased her car, cut her off and then approached her vehicle, using physical force to try get in.

“They seemed to really be enjoying harassing a lone girl in the middle of the night, judging by how often their car swerved, just enough to scare me that it might hit me,” she said. She added that she felt lucky she was “not lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere”.

Kundu reported the two men to the police, claiming that one is the son of a politician from the Prime Minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party, as Reuters reports. Her complaint was registered and the two men were arrested, then released on bail. BJP state vice president Ramveer Bhatti was reported by several news outlets to have focused not on condemning the men, but victim-blaming Kundu.

“The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night,” he said, according to the Guardian. “Why was she driving so late in the night? The atmosphere is not right. We need to take care of ourselves.”

Bhatti told the Times of India: “Parents must take care of their children. They shouldn’t allow them to roam at night. Children should come home on time, why stay out at night?”

Hundreds of women have since tweeted to mock the politician’s major, infantilising, victim-blaming statement, posting selfies out late at night to highlight their own autonomy. “Oops 1.45am and I am out on Delhi Roads, In a short Dress, stop me if you can !!! #AintNoCinderella,” wrote one user.

Another tweeted: “Dear regressive India, I will do as I please, night or day. Don't ever think you have the right to stop me #AintNoCinderella.”

Kundu and her father told NDTV that they were disgusted by the politician’s criticism. She said his words were part of a “well-established tactic” to intimidate her and stop her pursuing justice.

She added: “I’m supposed to be wondering about what this is going to do to my image and my life. But what would those guys have done to my life if they had caught me? What I do and where I go and at what time I do it is my business.”