Video footage of a 17-year old Indian girl being physically assaulted by a group of men in a busy street has sparked outrage in India. The incident has not only drawn attention to high levels of violence against women in India, but also raised the question of whether the journalist who filmed the attack should have intervened.
The incident happened on the evening of July 9, in Guwahati, a city in the northeastern state of Assam. The teenage girl was assaulted in a busy street by a group of around twenty drunken men while leaving a bar.
Although she shouted for help, nobody came to her assistance. Defenseless, the girl was groped, shoved and knocked to the ground by her assailants as they pulled at her clothes, trying to tear them off. The attack lasted 30 minutes. In the footage, the men appear entirely unconcerned by the crowds of onlookers surrounding them or the camera filming their every move. According to national newspaper The Hindustan Times, the attack finally ended after a journalist who “just happened to be passing by” called the police.
The incident has shocked many in India, prompting Internet users to express their anger on social networking websites. For example, using the hashtag #Guwahati, Twitter user @Bona_ness tweeted, “Castrate the attackers. That'll teach them to control their violent libidos”.
Yet it’s not just the violence of the attack that has upset people. Some have pointed to the fact that the journalist continued filming rather than intervene. Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan tweeted, “What was the TV crew doing there in the first place…and why did none of them intervene?” (@SrBachchan).
Others have argued that if the journalist hadn’t filmed the incident, the case would have received little attention in the press. Assaults of the same nature often go unreported in Guwahati, where the number of violent attacks against women is twice the national average. After the video was broadcast on local television and posted on the Internet, investigators were able to identify sixteen of the attackers, four of whom have since been arrested.
The journalist who filmed the incident works for a local news channel News Live TV. The station’s editor-in-chief later came to his staff’s defense in a tweet, saying, “I think my team did the right thing. If the gang had attacked them and stopped them from filming, we wouldn’t have any evidence of this incident”. He added, “They were the ones who called the police, and the police did come and intervene before it was too late”.

"The journalist and witnesses should be charged with failing to provide assistance to a person in danger "

Manisha Bhatia is a Communication Consultant in New Delhi.
It is partly due to the video that some of the aggressors have been arrested, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that those who filmed it didn’t try to help the girl. I think the journalist and the other witnesses who did not intervene should be charged with failing to provide assistance to a person in danger [failing to provide assistance is not actually a criminal offence under Indian law].
However, the main reason the incident has caused an outcry in India is not because the video went viral, but because it highlights the issue of violence against women. Most men honour goddesses such as Kali or Sati (Hindu deities) every morning, but in the evening they don’t treat women with the same respect.
While assaults against women can be common in India, it is not the only country in the world where it happens. A few weeks ago, a British journalist was assaulted in a similar incident in Egypt. Violence against women won’t stop as long as men believe they have the right to treat women however they want. It’s very disturbing to see a group of men looking at the camera and smiling as they attack a young girl, acting as if they were doing something heroic.