Breaking The Barrier: 21st January, Women From 20 Cities Will Reclaim The Public Space
A group of women are organizing a nation-wide campaign to reclaim public spaces and raise their voices against the deeply embedded patriarchy in India. Triggered by the reports of the New Year’s eve incident in Bengaluru, this campaign aims to challenge the derogatory and sexist statements made by Samajwadi Party leader- Abu Azmi and similar others who blame the victim and not the culprit. The politician has reportedly said that the New Year’s Eve incident was bound to happen since the women were wearing short dresses. Blaming the victims he added further that women should not step out alone at night.
‘I Will Go Out ’ as the name suggests, hence aims to eradicate the stigma attached to women being outside their homes after evening. Public spaces are becoming consistently prone to crimes against women. Apart from the horrifying incidents reported from Bangalore, the case of trekkers being roughed up in Lonavala by vigilante groups and the molestation of a Ladakhi girl are only a few incidents that have made it to prime time news. This campaign started as a conversation among individuals and organizations against the rampant street sexual harassment. Something every woman has experienced irrespective of her age, class, religion, choice of clothes or city. Moral policing, victim blaming and the age old “Why were you out at night?” attitude needs to change.
As a part of this campaign on January 11th, the citizens of Bangalore took to the streets in raising their united voice with slogans such as ‘My Body is My Right’ and ‘shame belongs to those who commit the crime’. Malini Krishnamoorthy, Additional Commissioner of Police spoke to the crowd and assured them that ‘this issue will be taken up seriously and complaints lodged’. The campaign is increasingly gathering momentum and over twenty cities are now organising the solidarity march, scheduled to be held nationally on Saturday, 21st from 5 pm to 8 pm.
Social media has become the instrument to sensitise and mobilise people towards this cause. ‘I Will Go Out’ has started a series through which women are sharing their personal stories of being sexually harassed in public spaces. Heart-rending and infuriating stories that have concluded in a show of strength and understanding that ‘this was not my fault’. And for all those reading, this is the clarion call for ‘burning the shame’ attached to being outside at night and revelling in one’s freedom of choice and expression. An online petition demanding an unconditional apology from Mr. Abu Azmi has also been launched through Change.org. It has received the support of over 32 thousand people so far.
As per the 2015 consensus of the National Crime Record Bureau over 34,000 rape cases were reported. Many more cases especially of assaults, however, go unreported because women fear of being stigmatised. The organisations and individuals that are a part of this organised dissent wish to draw attention to women’s rights and the patriarchal mindsets that blame women and question their morals. One of the activists involved said that “We don’t talk enough about violence against women in this country, nor are we doing enough to prevent it. We must keep up the pressure on our institutions to ensure our safety, and keep pushing for a change in attitudes and behavior towards women.”
Mentioned below is the list of cities organising this solidarity march:
(Connect with them on Facebook: iwillgoout
1. Bangalore 2. Mumbai 3. Pune 4. Delhi 5. Hyderabad 6. Kolkata 7. Lucknow 8. Pondicherry 9. Ahmedabad 10. Silchar 11. Karimganj 12. Jaipur 13. Bhopal 14. Nagpur 15. Thrissur 16. Kangra 17. Trivandrum 18. Gurgaon 19. Ranchi 20. Goa 21. Chandigarh 22. Chattisgarh 23. Dharamshala 24. Jammu 25. Chamba 26. Sirmor
In Dwarka also, the campaign is being organised. You can connect with them here: Iwillgoout_dwarka