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Besharmi Morcha hits Bhopal streets today

Anjali Nambissan  New Delhi, July 16, 2011
First Published: 21:03 IST(16/7/2011) | Last Updated: 14:15 IST(17/7/2011)

Besharmi Morcha - The PrideStride for Women is to hit the streets today at noon. Bhopal will see a bunch of young men, women and supporters of all ages take to the streets demanding a safer Bhopal for the city's women.

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Bhopal will see their version of the SlutWalk before Delhi does on July 31.

The inspiration for organiser Radhika Shingwekar came from the Delhi chapter, "I heard of the SlutWalk in Toronto and found the motive behind the whole thing quite appealing and then I heard about SlutWalk Delhi. So I thought why not do the same thing in Bhopal because girls here also face this sort of harassment every day," she said.

And so she turned to modern-day activist's best friend, Facebook. "Facebook is the best medium to reach out to the people. Intially the response was cold, but now we have a registered number of 5, 500 people," said Radhika, "Of this number I think 10% or 500 people should turn up today."

Radhika is a third-year student of law from National Law University, Delhi much like her co-organiser Swati Singh Baghel who is studying law atNational Law University Bhopal.

Ayush Dixit and Kshitij Mishra, also part of the organising committee are entrepreneurs.

"Section 354 deals specifically with eve-teasing cases. People don't know about it and hence, it is very rarely exercised and used," said Swati, "There are a lot of legislations addressing sexual harrasssment as a whole. The main problem is of awareness. There is a gap between the people and the police. People don't want to register cases with the police because they're scared of them."

The walk will begin from Nutan College and conclude in an open forum at All India Catholic University Federation Ashram, Campion Road, Bhopal.

Apart from the walk, the group has taken steps to initiate a signature campaign that will list the complaints faced by the women in Bhopal, which will be placed before the concerned authorities.

"There will be an open forum after the SlutWalk, where important people from the administration will be present. People can ask them questions about legislation - current or proposed, the security situation that exists and more," informed Kshitij.

Swati gives the details about the proposed anonymous helpline that they also plan to set up. "We plan to set up an anonymous helpline where women can call and tell us whatever problems they have and we can pursue them. Probably will look for support from government and NGOs so that these problems can be dealt with directly by the authorities and in a proper manner."

This walk is aimed getting tangible changes made in legislation to favour women. "The Maharashtra government has recently made harassment of women a non-bailable offence," explained Ayush, "to begin with we'd like to appeal to the MP government to do the same."

"So that there is a fear amongst wrongdoers and before sexually harassing somebody people will think twice," said Swati.

Criticism goes hand-in-hand with a public movement like this and this group has faced its fair share. Swati said, "A lot of people have criticised us saying that this SlutWalk is against our culture. A question we like to raise is that our culture also teaches us to respect our women. Do these people forget that part? And why is there a hypocrisy when it comes to women's rights versus men's rights."

The mood is upbeat, the view is trained on the future and the idea is to raise awareness. Ayush concludes with, "The time frame that we need to bring about a change is large, but at the end of the day what matters is where and how we start."


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