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My first experience was at age 8, after noon in Mumbai, on the pavement opposite my building. The pavement and road were routinely busy, not deserted but not congested at all. The pavement stretch I was on at that point was free, level and easy to walk on. Coming towards me was youth, walking, of about 22. The moment I saw him I just knew he was going to try something, and I edged towards the wall of the plot adjoining. He inched toward my trajectory, I edged more to the wall, he veered more, and as he came by me he brushed my thigh.
I instinctively swiwelled, caught his wrist and shouted ‘kya karta hai?’. He responded ‘kya’ but snatched his wrist away and walked on, but I saw the fear in his eyes. I don’t know how or why I reacted then but I haven’t stopped since then. Street sexual harassment makes me see red as not much else can.
Since then there have been a few other instances- I’ve slapped some men, and shouted at a few others, making sure all around me/us heard/saw. I’ve been aggressive in reaction. In each instance those around have been supportive, Mumbai still is, but perhaps a little less than earlier.
More recently researched into women’s ability to move around freely in Ahmedabad and how its lack affects their access to all resources.
Am an activist and researcher around gender-based violence and women’s rights on various issues across India. In Delhi now.
Also, campaigning against crimes against women in public spaces in Delhi, especially given this city’s heritage of abduction+rape, molestations, assaults and sexual intimidation. Part of the rally on 05/05/2012 against police inaction and women’s rights to city and safety.
This will be a long-term campaign with groups of women targetting a different public hot-spot every week and raising awareness on women’s rights to safe public space in Delhi.
We will interact with people, distribute parchas and raise slogans.
Come and join. Contribute ideas. Take action. Reclaim your space …..
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