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Love and Sex Info
“I’ve never felt so guilty in my life,” says Anmol. He’s been with his girlfriend for two years but lately he’s found himself fantasising about her best friend.
“I don’t want to mess up my relationship over something like this but I really don't know how to get her friend out of my mind,” says Anmol. “I’m turned on every time I’m around her.”
The Delhi ‘SlutWalk’ is finally set for 31 July. But the name has been changed to Besharmi Morcha – ‘Shameless Front’.
There was criticism that the global movement and the word 'slut' aren't right for India. "Here girls are more often called ‘shameless’ for wearing certain clothes or following a certain lifestyle, or even for just talking to boys,” says organiser Umang Sabharwal.
By Aletta André
The name change won’t be the only difference with the other SlutWalks held worldwide, says 19-year-old Umang, a Delhi University student who set up the Delhi chapter of the event with her friends.
“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised,” said a Canadian policeman on 24 January 2011.
The remark sparked a protest march in Toronto dubbed SlutWalk.
Thousands marched in raunchy clothes to stand up for a woman’s right to dress as she likes without fear of sexual assault.
Many similar protests have now been held worldwide.
Critics have condemned the use of the insulting word ‘slut’.
Campaigners say they want to ‘reclaim’ the word.
“We’re not encouraging the participants to wear provocative clothes, because it would not fit well in our cultural context. We are asking people to wear whatever they wear in everyday life, because all women, most of whom don’t wear short clothes, get harassed.”
Critics said that a SlutWalk would only appeal to an urban elite and exclude millions of other women, who might even be harmed by the movement.
What’s more, there were fears that the message of scantily-clad Delhi-ites would be lost on the onlookers and only attract an audience of lecherous men.
“If an average Delhi man happens to be at the spot where the SlutWalk is being held, he would ogle at the participants," wrote blogger Sanjukta Basu.
“Afterwards, he would go back home in a bus, rubbing his erected dick onto the shoulders of some girls sitting on the ladies seat in front of him. These girls would not be participants of the SlutWalk and they would not be able to save themselves from the harassment.”
Spread the message
In the wake of the criticism, the organisers postponed the Besharmi Morcha from the original date of 25 June. At the same time, they set up an awareness campaign, Ab Toh Bol – speak up.
“We are organising public debates and also go to the slum areas for debates and street plays, to spread the message to a wider audience,” says Umang Sabharwal.
Meanwhile, India's first Besharmi Morcha was held on 16 July in Bhopal, inspired by the idea from Delhi. Five thousand people said they were planning to attend on Facebook. Yet in the end, only 50 participants turned up.
Umang hopes she won’t be in for a disappointment like that in Delhi, because of the long period she took for organisation and promotion. In Mumbai a Besharmi Morcha is scheduled for September.
Although different from the SlutWalk elsewhere in the world, the Indian versions are still linked to the global movement, says Umang.
“The issues are the same, across countries and class. Here we also have gender inequality, stereotypes, safety issues. Clothes are one thing, but overall it is simply about the right to access public space. It is against the mindset that looks down upon anything that is perceived as independent and expressive.”
Photo: Umang Sabharwa, Besharmi Morcha organiser (Love Matters/Aletta André)
Read about coping with rape and unwanted sexual behaviour.
Is an Indian ‘SlutWalk’ fighting harassment or provoking it? And do you think women should adapt the way they dress to avoid the risk of assault?
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