Here’s another thorn in my flesh. On Monday (November 26), ToI published a story titled “Auto driver, aide take Mumbai starlet for a ride, assault her”. For one, I object to the phrase “take for a ride” being (ab)used in this context, though it is true that she was “taken for a ride” in a literal sense. I object, because the levity implied by the phrase does not actually convey the horror of assault. My second objection is to the use of the term “starlet” to describe the victim. “Starlet” is defined by OED as ” a young actress with aspirations to become a star” . The connotations are not flattering. “Starlet” is not an appropriate description of a person’s occupation, especially not in this context. Is it too much to expect her to be described as “model” or “actor”? By her profession, not a tag?
In the follow up to the first report, this story turns up, again in ToI. The case has been dubbed “Starlet assault case”! On the plus side, the second report includes this quote, which raises some relevant issues:
“Neelam told TOI she had lost faith in the emergency helpline 100. “After a group of fishermen came to my rescue, I dialled 100, but the cops who took my call merely told me to go to the nearest police station. I decided to head home to Andheri and later phoned the police control room. A policewoman answered and heard me out. But instead of helping, she asked why I had waited so long to inform the control room. I was stunned. What would any woman in my situation be expected to do?” Neelam said. “The emergency helpline and police control room are supposed to be custodians of our safety. But how can we rely on them if their personnel have such a callous attitude. I feel women are just not safe in Mumbai anymore.”