‘Patriarchy down... Azaadi!’: Women, men children come out in Chandigarh to reclaim public spaces
The march named ‘Bekhauf Aazadi’ started at around 10pm from Rose Garden in Sector 16 and ended at Leisure valley in Sector 10.punjab Updated: Aug 12, 2017 14:07 IST
Chanting slogans “Patriarchy Down! Down!” “Azaadi..Azaadi”, scores participated in a march organised by social groups in Chandigarh as people asserted their right to access public spaces in Chandigarh for women. The march named ‘Bekhauf Aazadi’ started at around 10pm from Rose Garden in Sector 16 and ended at Leisure valley in Sector 10. Ironically, the end point, geri route, is glorified in songs on Chandigarh where ‘macho men come to ‘look’ at women.
The march had its fair share of men as well. Many women were accompanied by their partners. Then there was a group of bikers accompanying the protesters. The participants were mobilised through a page created four days back on social media site, Facebook, in the backdrop of Varnika Kundu stalking and attempt to kidnap bid episode, involving Vikas Barala, Haryana BJP chief, Subhash Barala’s son.
“The march was attended by writers, city activists, educationists, among others. We have come to participate in this March as this case is being manipulated and they are trying to cast aspersions on Varnika Kundu’s character. Through this march, we want to counter such attempts,” said Jagmati Sanghwan, president, All India Democratic Women’s Association.
Pallav Mukherjee, a former councillor was also part of the march. “The march is just the beginning. A nation that can't protect its women can't protect itself,” Mukherjee said. Neelam Man Singh, a theatre artist, who was also in attendance termed the march a ‘historic one’. Varnika too had announced that she may join the march. But, citing security reasons, she cancelled.
“Many places aren’t safe for women. On the geri route, men behave like hooligans. I have witnessed this through the years. I see this as a positive move in at least in awakening people’s consciousness,” said Navpreet Kaur, post doctorate fellow, IISER, Mohali. A Panchkula woman, who did not want to be named, said she had to appeal to the Haryana chief minister to get a case registered when the police refused to entertain her complaint of harassment.
The college, school students, many of them with their parents participated in large numbers. One of the organiser, Sharmita Bhinder, said, “Social media helped in mobilising the people. “We have tried to underline through this march that a girl too has a right to be outside at 10 like boys in public spaces.”
She also questioned the different yardsticks as has emerged in Varnika’s case.