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15 Sep 2019, Edition - 1524, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Pollachi sexual assault tears through social fabric, drives away grooms-to-be

Vidyashree Dharmaraj

It was quick action by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), filing the chargesheet in the infamous Pollachi sexual assault case in less than a month. But, the infamous case garnered national attention for all wrong reasons, affecting the cultural fabric of the town, 35 km from Coimbatore.

After the incident, there is a lot of hesitance among menfolk to marry girls from Pollachi, say people there.

Arranged marriage within one’s own community has largely been the norm for ages in this conservative town and it is hard to believe that technology and social media can rip apart moral conscience to this extent. Several families are now forced to hang their heads in shame, says a professor who prefers that his identity is not revealed..

A police officer confirmed to The Covai Post that he was also hearing the locals expressing concern about marriage proposals being turned down if the girl is from Pollachi. “Though there are a lot more girls involved in the case they never came out to complain because of the fear and stigma attached to it. The case would have drawn a lot more strength if more girls came forward to complain. Stifling victims and preventing them from lodging a complaint on the predators in the name of culture Is not sensible,” he said.

There have been at least three marriages that were called off, following this incident, said Mookambika Ratinam, a social worker and Pollachi’s Lok Sabha candidate for Makkal Needhi Mayyam. “It’s not those at Pollachi alone, even those from outside who appear jaundiced. They weirdly want to believe that girls from Pollachi are unfit for marriage! This regressive mindset must change. Rather than taking stringent action on the predators who are running an organised racket luring girls and shooting videos to blackmail them, holding the girls responsible for the incident is unfair,” she says.

A couple from Pollachi who visited Tiruchendur soon after this incident, were denied a hotel room. This even after they tried to convince the hotel manager that they had booked the room online a month ago.

Marriage broker Ramesh told The Covai Post that this trend was not seen much among the affluent. It is more among the lower and middle class families. There had been several marriages that were called off this season, though this may not be the only reason, he said.

Dr Kannaki Uthraraj, a gynaecologist and long-time resident of Pollachi, lamented that the advent of the internet brought in a deluge of changes to the pristine town. The influx of negative metro influences, especially social media, has caused havoc in the minds of the naive young homespun folk, is her view. Several sites on social media tore the family fabric and prompted innocent girls to jump over conventions without a thought, only to become victims of sexual predators.

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