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Poles apart

Online, offline men and women demand a safer city. HT Citydoes a survey and finds out how the Capital is divided over punishing the rapist in the recent rape case...

india Updated: Jan 09, 2009 17:32 IST
Hindustan Times

Hands off

If this is what you believe ...

The police, politicians and so-called elders of society almost always find a way to blame the girl — day or night, short skirt or fully covered, with a male escort or without. To counter this appalling attitude, several initiatives have started, in the city and beyond.

DMRC Citizens’ Forum: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has launched its citizens’ forum, where among other things, citizen volunteers will travel on the Metro and prevent misbehaviour, sexual harassment and damage to the Metro.

Blank Noise: This project was started in 2003 to dispel the myths around what is euphemistically known as ‘eve-teasing’. One of the first initiatives was to collect over 1,000 garments that women were wearing when they were harassed. The aim was to state that women never ‘ask for it’, no matter how they are dressed. The project’s “unapologetic walking” guidelines ask women to walk without fear or shame or with their heads bowed.

MASVAW: Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women is an offshoot of the NGO Sahayog. This group conducts workshops, debates and film screenings in districts and several universities across India to spread awareness.

Forum to Engage Men for Gender Equality and Stopping Gender-Based Violence: This forum has actor Rahul Roy as a co-founder. Roy is also the founder of southasianmasculnities.org. “Only if we understand why violence is so integral to the notion of manlihood, can we fight the phenomenon,” says Roy.

Facebook groups:

Thousands of members are in groups that propagate the idea ‘enough is enough’ and dispel false notions about rape victims.

Death to them

Hang them’, ‘castrate them’ — this is what Delhi’s youth want to see done to the Noida rapists, even as so-called society elders dismiss the crime as “only rape”.

It isn’t only the girls who are seething with anger; men are fearful of their girlfriends’ safety. Rahul Gupta, an MBA student, doesn’t trust his girlfriend’s office cabbies, so he picks her up and drops her home when he can. “But since the Noida case, I don’t know how safe she is even with me,” he says.

The murder of Saumya Vishwanathan is still fresh in the minds of the youth. So is the incredible statement — Saumya was being ‘adventurous’ by driving home on her own — that came from CM Sheila Dixit. “Now our CM will say, ‘She should not have been so careless,’” fumes Plabita Das, a teacher.

At every turn, a Saumya murder or a Noida rape is waiting to happen. Amit Kumar, a journalist, tells us: “I was going home about an hour past midnight and was on Nelson Mandela Road, when I noticed this rowdy group of boys in a car chasing a girl driving a Santro. I tried to call the PCR, but to no avail.” Amit tailed the car and honked at those guys incessantly before they backed off. “It was scary.”