Women across India are posting defiant selfies of themselves out after midnight with the hashtag #AintNoCinderella, after a male politician victim-blamed a woman who was stalked for being “out so late”.
The social media movement began last weekend (5 August), when Varnika Kundu took to her Facebook page to describe how she was stalked by two men in a car who attempted to kidnap her while she was driving home in Chandigarh, India, after midnight on Saturday.
In the post, which has since gone viral, she described how the men seemed to be “really enjoying harassing a lone girl in the middle of the night” by repeatedly swerving towards her and following her down roads.
“I was in a full-blown panic attack by now because they would keep trying to corner me, and I'd somehow manoeuvre my way out and keep moving,” she wrote. “My hands shaking, my back spasming from fear, half in tears, half bewildered, because I didn't know if I'd make it home tonight.”
It wasn’t until a police car turned up in response to a phone call she’d made and “nabbed” the men that they finally stopped following her.
She added that she was lucky not to be “lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere” following the incident.
While Kundu has been praised for her bravery online, with her Facebook post racking up over 16,000 likes so far, a male politician in the country couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon to heap blame on her for daring to be out of the house past midnight.
Ramveer Bhatti, the area vice president of the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), reportedly said, “The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night. Why was she driving so late in the night? The atmosphere is not right. We need to take care of ourselves.”
He also felt it necessary to add to 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?”
While Kundu has not disclosed her age, you must be at least 18 years old to legally drive in Chandigarh, so she is definitely old enough not to be classed as a child.
And in a brilliant backlash to Bhatti’s patronising attempt at victim blaming, women across the country have been sharing selfies of themselves in bars, clubs, restaurants or just anywhere that isn’t their home past midnight, accompanied by the hashtag #AintNoCinderella.
“No man can stop me from going out whenever I want,” wrote one woman.
“What I wear, till what time I stay out, whom I hang around with, bla bla.. is none of your business bcoz I #AintNoCinderella,” wrote another.
You can see more of the powerful selfies below, and follow the movement on Twitter here.