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Revealing the face behind Delhi SlutWalk

Umang Sabharwal, organiser, Slutwalk Arthaat Besharmi Morcha, lives by the motto 'my way or the highway'. Here's the young crusader in an exclusive chat with Sonakshi Babbar.

entertainment Updated: Jun 21, 2011 12:59 IST
Sonakshi Babbar

Umang Sabharwal, organiser, Slutwalk Arthaat Besharmi Morcha, lives by the motto 'my way or the highway'. Clad in shorts and a sleeveless top, Umang Sabharwal walks in languidly into the room - not your stereotypical DU youth activist. But appearances are usually deceptive - she is the brain behind Slutwalk Arthaat Besharmi Morcha - the Delhi chapter of worldwide wave of Slutwalks.

Her initiative might be laudable, but the question is will she be able to do justice to the cause she has taken up? Here's the young crusader in an exclusive chat with Sonakshi Babbar.

Sonakshi: Slutwalks have happened across the world, what triggered you to bring out a Delhi chapter of Slutwalk?

UmangUmang: "We all know how unsafe Delhi is, violence happens to women in public spaces and every time it happens we never question the perpetrator of the crime, instead we lecture the girl about what they're supposed to wear and where not to go. Gender stereotypes obligate us to be a certain way; they block our right to life. I have the right to go out, choose my clothes, profession or number of sexual partners and none of these could justify violence against me. We should be proud of our sexuality and who we are. It's about time that we stop telling each other to 'behave' ourselves. The purpose of the walk is to shift the focus from the victim to perpetrator.

Sonakshi: With limited online promotion, and the selection of word 'Slut'(with its upper class connotations) Slutwalk has been branded an 'elitist movement' How do you plan to reach out to woman of all classes?

Umang: To make it easier to understand, we have modified the name to SlutWalk Arthaat Besharmi Morcha. This way more people can relate to it and it still retains the spunk of 'SlutWalk'. I would also say that being privileged doesn't mean that our problems aren't real. We also face the same harassment and feel the same way."

Sonakshi: Other than changing the name what efforts are you making to make the movement more inclusive?

Umang: No movement is entirely inclusive, but the movement includes everyone, we're trying to launch our own website with a more lucid communication, street play forms and where English newspapers don't reach."

Sonakshi: While in similar marches elsewhere, women have participated wearing skimpy outfits, in India this might be perceived as an extreme form of protest.

Umang: "I'm not actually stripping here! It's bold but not extreme. It's not a timid way of protests, but then why should I be timid. It's the way I am - bold and aggressive. I'm raising my voice against such an important issue. But all people care about is what I wear. I'm as unsafe in a salwar kameez as in shorts.

Sonakshi: Since the protest is about 'women's right to wear what you want without fear of being raped, will you also dress up in short clothes to prove your point?

Umang: Oh no, I will be dressed 'appropriately'. Slutwalk is not about gals in fishnet stockings We're raising our voice against bigger issues.

Sonakshi: Most youngsters today shy away from hard-core politics, but with your experience with SlutWalk, do you see yourself in youth politics somewhere down the line?

Umang: "No no no (laughs). I'm doing my bit for the society, and will continue to do it my way. Politics is not my calling. I have no reason to be a politician, if I want to contribute to the community I will do it the way I want.