Girls from Delhi’s resettlement colony demand safe public places through video
A group of 11 girls from a resettlement colony at the periphery of the national Capital,have found a digital way to demand safe public spaces and blast patriarchy at home which prevents them from pursuing education and their dreams.
A 3.35 minute video, titled ‘Khadar ki ladkiyan’, shows local girls from Madanpur Khadar JJ Colony — a resettlement colony in southeast Delhi with low-income households — walking through the area, sharing the problems they face at home and on the streets. The video, which has been posted on YouTube, has been viewed 1,320 times and gathered 81 likes.
Ritu, 20, who features in the video, said, “Our first video featured our struggle to demand freedom and to reclaim public places such as roads and parks, which are mostly dominated by men. In our next video, we plan to get many other girls join us and share their stories,” said, Ritu, who now has a job in the NGO sector and is also pursuing a Master’s in Hindi from Delhi University’s School of Open Learning.
Watch video: Khadar ki ladkiyan
The video, with English subtitles, is part of the project ‘Aana Jana’ aimed at allowing access to women in the digital space and make public places safer and more gender inclusive. The project was started in the area last year. It is funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK network, under its ‘Gendering the Smart City’ project. King’s College London is the host institution.
In Delhi, the project is being co-organised by local NGOs, Jagori and Safetipin .
Meera, 19, who also featured in the video, said, “Life is not easy for girls in the area where we live. Most of us had dropped out of school after completing Class 11 or 10. Its only after a group of NGO women came to the locality to mobilise young girls to pursue further education and study safety parameters that we could get out of homes.”
“The first step was to fight the prejudice at home. We were told not to step out alone and discontinue studies so that we could be married off. Girls in our area are married off at the age of 15-16, both against their will and the law. I just hope we are able to get more girls to join us,” said Meera,who is pursuing her Bachelor’s in social work.
In the video, the girls could be seen talking about sexual harassment, questioning the role of police, demanding dignity for women pointing out how they have to face discrimination at all places. “Ye sheher hamara apka, nahi tumare baap ka ... Khud Ko badle Bina ..mujhe ghar me bithaya hai..Mai bhi Khul Ke jeena chahti hu...,’’ are some of the lyrics in the song.
Asserting their identity, the girls could be seen wearing purple t-shirts with ‘Khadar ki ladkiyan’ (girls from Khadar) written on the back.
Unsafe commuting to work and other places is one of the prominent themes of the song as well as the project. The girls associated with the initiative. “It (Madanpur Khadar) is very far from the city centre, where offices or educational institutions are located. It is only in the recent years, with the Delhi Metro reaching the area and private vans that we are able to commute. The nearest Metro station is Kalindi Kunj,” said Jagriti, 19, who can also be seen in the video.
Local residents concurred, saying no DTC bus route connects the area and a bus stand now serves as a shelter for the homeless. The only public transport available is the Delhi Metro, which too is not as close or as cheap an option for daily commute, said residents.
A part of the project is WhatsApp diaries, where these women share their daily life experiences of commuting across the city. They post their messages on a personal whatsapp group which has all the 11 girls and the NGO partners as its members.
The diaries include all bits of successes and stigma that the girls face. A photo exhibition, displaying the struggles and success of the women from Madanpur Khadar is being shown at the Mandi House Metro station. The exhibition, being organised along with the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), will be on till January 31.
“The project is basically to empower the young women living at the margins in the border towns of the city in terms of urban commute and safety as well as to negotiate the freedom of choosing to enter the digital space or of leaving home and conventional barriers to work in the city,” said, Ayona Datta, project head, Gendering the Smart City.
Kalpana Viswanath, CEO, Safetipin, said mapping public places is a powerful tool to make them accessible for women. “Mapping these areas is a concrete way to express what young women feel. Also, creative mediums such as art and music are a better way to reach out to a wider audience, in particular, women in low-income households, who have limited means of access,” she said.