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“I was introduced to my future husband by email, met him for the first time on Skype and married him two months later,” says Divya.
Divya got married two years ago to a match arranged by her father’s friend. According to her even though an arranged marriage doesn’t sound like the most romantic thing in the world, it’s the best decision she has made in her life.
Carrying placards, chanting slogans and playing drums, the controversial Delhi SlutWalk or Besharmi Morcha – shameless front – went ahead on Sunday.
24-year-old student Samridhi Singh, holds a sign reading “If you blame victims for provoking attacks, you support criminals. No one invites attacks.”
Other slogans included “Stop staring, women are not aliens from Venus”, “I see you as equal, do you?”, “No means no”, and “I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of”.
“It’s about the right to wear whatever you want and go out on the street and in bars whenever you want,” says Samridhi. She has never been called ‘shameless’, but “enough other bad words”.
Samridhi is wearing a wide, long sleeveless shirt with trousers. “I do wear dresses, but I have to think a lot beforehand. Who will I meet, where, will there be a car or am I travelling by public transport? It's basically only safe in private situations.”
Her friend Bhaskar Pant (24) says it’s different in Mumbai. “The girls dress more freely there and feel safe to be out late at night.” He's a bit sceptical about the movement. “There are so many demonstrations in Delhi and this one is a total media hype. But I need to see what will happen afterwards. The mindset of the men needs to be changed.”
Prerna Jaiswal, a 26-year-old editor, thinks that it's actually the mindset of women that needs to change. “Often it's my mother or grandmother telling me what not to wear and where not to go. Women should step up and empower themselves.” Prerna is one of very few women wearing a dress revealing her legs and knees.
“Everyone should wear whatever they're comfortable in”, she says, adding that she gets called names and harassed occasionally. “Even here, there was an older man who took advantage of the event, getting too touchy.”
To get the message across to onlookers, the organisers presented street theatre about harassment in public places and violence against women.
“We've been performing street plays to stimulate discussion about the topic in various areas of Delhi and surrounding small towns”, says Parth Arora, 20, a student who is part of the organisation.
“We are planning to do more of that in the coming year”, he says. “We have no specific plan of action yet, but we will certainly continue the campaign. We are affiliated with the National Commission for Women’s Rights to do so. And this walk will be held annually.”
Photo and article by Aletta André
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