This post is written by Sanchari Bhattacharjee who is a student at Christ University, Bengaluru. Imagine working in your office cubicle, only to have your personal space invaded by a co-worker or the boss insinuating sexual favours, or think of yourself in a public space being touched inappropriately or lewd comments being directed your way. Both of these scenarios stand for sexual harassment but reading those situations only binary characters of the harasser and the victim drew up in your mind. There stands a very important third component called a bystander who is a witness to the offence. Now since these situations occur in a public space, there is a highly likely possibility of a considerable number of bystanders. In that office environment, had somebody around noticed it and informed it to the HR on an immediate notice then probably that would have saved you from an uncomfortable situation or maybe if the crowd in the public space intervened to stop the harasser then it would have saved you from trauma. In all of this, the bystander plays a very important role in changing the outcome of the situation at hand. Let us first understand the term sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is an umbrella term for all kinds of unsolicited verbal and physical sexual attention. It is highly offensive and intimidating for the victim, most of the time leading to mental distress. It is often said that ‘’our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter’’ and bystanders in sexual harassment cases should hear these words loud and clear. Bystanders play an extremely important role as witnesses to sexual harassment cases. Some might be active and intervene to stop the offence while some might be passive to only stand and watch it happen silently. Passive bystanders are much equally responsible as the aggressor in an offence. In a utopian world, the term bystander should always relate to an active one but unfortunately, we live in a world where peer support, as well as pressure, plays a humongous role in dictating our choices. There have been studies which try to understand the bystander’s role in sexual harassment cases and it has been found that people have the propensity to wait for prompts from others to react and intervene. This wait for peer action often leads the offence to pass which makes the third component futile. The bystander is often clueless about when and how to react even if they want to intervene which again makes the existence of a third component in a sexual harassment case futile. Active bystanders work towards creating a safer community environment because they ensure that the offence is called out and the harasser is reprimanded in some way. All of these views about bystanders and their actions was from an outside perspective. Let us understand the psyche of a bystander. A person is awarded the status of a bystander when they become a witness to an offence. This automatically puts them into a mental framework of unresponsiveness as that is inborn human response to an uncomfortable situation. It is then the presence of mind of the bystander on whether to become an active bystander and intervene or remain passive and contemplate on whether they should intervene as well as how. A bystander also recognizes responsibility that will fall on their shoulders if they decide to intervene which also influences their status as a bystander. Bystanders hold an immense amount of responsibility when they witness an offence but there stands a term called the ‘’bystander effect’’ which essentially describes their lack of acknowledgement of that responsibility. Now it falls on the hands of the bystander whether they want to fall prey to the ‘’bystander effect’’ or have the ‘’bystander intervention’’ which essentially is the acknowledgment of the responsibility and changing the outcome of an offence, lead their actions. A bystander can take up various roles of responsibility in a scene of offense. Some decide to opt out of the scene and just remain as outsiders. This essentially portrays their lack of acknowledgement of their actions which have the ability to change the outcome of an offense. Some decide to be the defenders and intervene to positively change the outcome of the situation thereby bringing relief to the victim. They acknowledge their responsibilities and ensure that the victim is done by right. A bystander can sometimes also become co-harasser by joining in with the harasser and making the victim miserable than they already are. In such a scenario, the bystander has now joined forces with the harasser thereby completely letting go of their responsibility as a bystander with a potential to bring about positive change. Taking two case studies, we will evaluate the responsibility of a bystander in a sexual harassment case. In 2018, a minor girl was been sexually harassed and filmed by four men in Jehanabad, Bihar. The whole incident occurred in broad daylight with bystanders and nobody intervened to stop the four men who were harassing the young girl. The crowd witnessed the men disrobing and molesting her yet the ‘’bystander effect’’ played leaving the girl without any help. Now the entire case would have played differently had there been ‘’bystander intervention’’. The men in the crowd could have pulled back the men from harassing her while the women in the crowd could have consoled her and brought her to safety while giving the police a call. This would have prevented the girl from experiencing the whole trauma and probably would have cut down the amount of trauma she experienced. This would mean that the crowd understood their responsibility as a bystander and curbed the harassment even before it reached the larger extents. The ‘’bystander effect’’ just left the girl miserable and assaulted which also sets the bar low on the kind of responsible citizen one must be. While researching for case studies to explain the difference a bystander could make and induce an understanding of their responsibilities, I found a lack of such an example where ‘’bystander intervention’’ played a role in intervening in such an offense. This is because the ‘’bystander effect’’ is a much more stronger psychological phenomena than ‘’bystander intervention’’’. The fictious examples present all over the internet just present us with a view of a utopian world. It lies on our hands to understand our responsibilities to become an active bystander and make the fictitious examples come to life. Well, you all read above on how a bystander is important and how their actions have the power to change how a situation occurs. It now falls on the hands of the reader to acknowledge it and comprehend the need for active bystanders because greater the number of active bystanders, lesser will be the cases of sexual harassment. It will ensure that the harassers are aware of the consequences of their actions that they would have to bear before the law takes it over from the hands of the crowd.