Gurgaon turned battleground for justice as hundreds of youngsters thronged the Sahara Mall on Wednesday to protest against sexual harassment. The upheaval was a result of the recent rape of a 23-year-old pub worker in the city.
Youngsters shouted slogans such as ‘Pubs don’t rape women, rapists rape women. Let’s lock them up’ and ‘Safe day and safe night, every citizen’s basic right’, marched in big groups and lit candles. The event was organised by Youth Collective’s Manak Matiyani, a 27-year-old filmmaker and social worker, and saw social rights groups such as Let’s walk Gurgaon, Gurgaon Moms, Jagori, HalaBol and joining in.
“We need to break our silence and stop taking acts like rape as a part of life,” said Matiyani. Young men, too, turned up in large numbers. Dhruv Arora, one of the protesters, said, “Even our language is derogatory towards women. I hate the term ‘izzat lut gayi’ used for a girl who has been raped. She is victimised and made to feel ashamed for a crime she has not committed.”
Even as Gurgaon authorities clarified that they did not advise an 8pm curfew for working women (see box), many lashed out at the police for trivialising the matter. Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research, said, “If they can’t provide protection, they better pack their bags and leave. The police is busy scaring off women, and not the culprits.”
Meanwhile, tweet protests ruled cyberspace. The hashtag DelhiHallaBol saw support from thousands, including Bollywood celebrities. Actor Gul Panag tweeted, “Dear Administrations of NCR, we understand u can’t protect us after dark, can we only pay 50% of r taxes ? ( for only 50% protection) (sic).”
Apart from this, the cycling and walking groups of NCR are organising a mass walk from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhawan on Sunday to urge the Government to take action.
Safe in the city
We’ve had enough, say the women of Delhi after the recent attacks in NCR. HT City today launches Safe in the City, a campaign to build awareness of how unsafe women are and feel in Delhi NCR and steps towards having women protect and defend themselves as well as look at what needs doing to create a safer city.
Safe in the City kicks off with our ‘Real Men ...’ campaign. We believe that Real Men Don’t Rape; that Real Men Respect Women. What do you believe?
Tell us on Facebook at facebook.com/htcity.
In the coming weeks we will roll out our self defence training programme and create a space for you to tell your stories of being safe, being unsafe and getting safer in the city.
Gurgaon police clarifies
The Gurgaon police issued a clarification stating that they had only reiterated an existing law that women working beyond 8pm had to take permission from the labour department, and that it was mandatory for employers to drop them back. They cleared that they did not impose an 8pm curfew.
Inputs by Chirag Mohanty Samal