Sunday, July 31, 2011

Slutwalk, a knock on male abusers

The Slutwalk in the capital was to send out a strong message to the abusers and it was equally supported by men. People don't even think it's an issue, especially boys. They believe it's the birth right to stare; they don't know staring for more than 36 seconds is punishable. Face book is an encyclopedia of slangs. If you go to HMG wall, you will find series of slangs and outraging statements. No one says no to anyone rather reacts more aggressively with strong abusive words. ‘Fuck you’ seems to be a very small word for the facebook users and that is the reason why we find them using it very often. But, those whoever uses this kind of adjectives for girls, should place their mother and sister or wife in front of them and repeat the slang. Only then they will understand how much pleasure they get using such dirty words. The reason for such bad behaviour is either they have weak minds or suffer from poor upbringing.

I still remember Protima Bedi's nude run on the Juhu beach in Mumbai that spawned a legion of young admirers along with a bunch of raised eyebrows. Many thought this was the best way to get attention in the public space. As we all wear clothes, nudity could attract a lot of attention. Protima Bedi had done streaking in Mumbai, which had created a lot of hue and cry in 1970s. It was her message for perverted sect of the society. Covered woman is tripped off for satisfying ego, abused and tarnished by male chauvinists then she can even bare to be nude. What if everywoman sheds the inhabitations and face the odd? When she shed her clothing and streaked across Juhu beach, onlookers merely smiled.

Well, Persis Khambatta shaved her head and passed message don’t frame woman is certain parameters of looking beautiful. She shaved her head and then went on a man hunt? Nina Gupta, unmarried mother dared to conceive a child out of wed locks and passed a message that motherhood does not require any bonds and props; woman alone is capable of taking care of the child. Britney Spears and Madonna's French kiss while performing at the 2005 MTV Awards created quite a furor. But they gave message to love and live, and that man is not the only option. However, radical religious leaders have always attacked over such incidences, but they never made any special efforts to stop violence against women.

Deepa Mehta’s fire again was with a strong message to those men who wants women as show piece in their life. We had a myth that lesbianism did not exist in Hindu families. But "Fire," gave an insight to this issue. Why does the story revolve around a Hindu family? Why has the filmmaker named the main characters Sita and Radha? The reason, even Hindu family’s conservative woman has her own desires and it’s high time if man tries to suppress them, then they have better options. Hindu fundamentalists have always attacked theatres over these issues but things are moving towards betterment.

The Delhi chapter was supposed to be the first of its lot in India, but Bhopal took out its own version on July 17th. But when Delhi finally took the show to the road after months of speculation, the ‘SlutWalk’ was rather impressive. SlutWalk or Besharmi Morcha as the India chapter choose to call it – had intense media coverage and ample police protection. The morning papers announced the tentative route but participants were also told mildly that a ‘walk’ would not be allowed since the police feared for the safety of the participants. The India chapter of SlutWalk that was supposed to kick off in Delhi - finally took to the streets on a sunny morning. Despite the sun and the humidity, an impressive crowd gathered at Jantar Mantar at 10:30 waiting for the action to begin. Students with their teachers, parents, friends, media personnel, performers, volunteers and heavy security amidst a million cameras made it look like the biggest thing on a Sunday morning. No one seemed to mind the discomfort of the crowds or the innumerable camera wires all over the place. The fact that there were so many men participated was quite interesting; they carried posters condemning the sex crimes, the sexism and the indifference. The march kicked off with bright neon posters declaring – "Ladki tere baap ki jagiir nahin"; "Believe it or not, my short skirt has nothing to do with you!"; "Mujhe bus mein safar karna hai, english wala suffer nahin"…and more. "Enough" was the most pertinent slogan on everyone’s mind. The sexual harassment, the derogatory comments, the insults need to stop and Delhi was serious. The huge group of enthusiasts took a quite walk around the block to return to the site where the march started. As the crowds grew, the Delhi Drum Circle took up the rhythm and set things in motion. Amidst cheers and drum beats – the slogans were shouted out loud- "Besharam kaun? Teri aage teri soch!"

The people gathered there were vocal about the fact that they did not support harassment of any sort and that it was time to take matters in their own hands. Social activist and Actor, Nafisa Ali, was the only celebrity present at the march. She pointed out that every day was a struggle for the woman and this had to stop, and thus she supported the movement strongly. The theatre group Asmeeta took the centre stage for their street play and the crowds cheered on. They brought out the troubles women faced everyday – while traveling, on the streets; from sexually derogatory comments to sinister matters of rape, acid and razor attacks. It was not only about what was being said to the women – but also what was being done to them. Age, sex, nationality aside, the huge group of people who got together on the Sunday morning had one clear agenda in mind – stop harassing women. Some posters declared – "Gentlemen don’t get provoked, sexual offenders don’t need provocation." And hopefully the message would make it all clear. Slutwalk has become a revolution across the world.

Even as older Indians and the right-wing Hindu groups condemned the march, more than 100 protesters shouted angry slogans, enacted street plays and carried placards saying “I Have Nothing To Be Ashamed of,” “Stop Staring” and “Walk of No Shame.” In India, protesters were not skimpily clad as many were in walks in other cities.

The SlutWalk was started in Toronto earlier this year after a police officer said "women should avoid dressing like sluts" to avoid being victimized by sexual predators. But many objected to the officer's statement, saying the victims are not to be blamed for their assault, regardless of dress. Sexual assault survivors are never at fault, it is the fault of the rapist, not of the victim. Since the SlutWalk in India, men and women around the world have taken the officer's derogatory statement and used it as a word of empowerment. It's a word that we need to take back. It's a word that we need to reclaim, because it's not something that somebody can tell you to make you feel bad about yourself anymore.

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