Girls attempt to reclaim city streets

Girls attempt to reclaim city streets

Walk to remember

These paths are ours, the lanes, the markets and everything around it. The sky is ours the land is ours. The day is ours and so are the nights”. With these slogans, girls, some of them teenagers, went on to march the streets of Delhi University’s North Campus last week.

Named as ‘Take back the night’, the event was attended by volunteers, gender rights activists and even boys who had come in solidarity. However the younger girls clearly bore an overwhelming aura as they passed the busy markets, Metro stations and even police check posts. The number of girls kept on swelling as they march passed in front of various hostels and colleges of the Delhi University.

 “One in three women worldwide experiences some kind of abuse in her lifetime. The idea behind the ‘Take back the night’ is to reclaim the streets because women in this country are always told not to move around in the night. The march basically is organised to send out a message that the streets are our as well,” said Veronika Xavier of RAHI (Recovering and Healing from Incest) Foundation.

RAHI had organised the march under the banner ship of ‘One Billion Rising’ (OBR), an initiative which calls for an end for violence against women globally.

Devika Menon is the assistant coordinator of Sangath a non-governmental organisation which is overlooking the OBR movement in South Asia region. “Historically the ‘Take back the night’ has happened all across the world. The event today is part of that history in which women’s group asserted their rights. Staying in home is going to do nothing about women’s safety. We have to escalate our voices,” Menon told Metrolife moments before joining the march.

Devika Shekhawat who is pursuing her graduation from the St Stephens College was among the girls present for the march. “Ever since I have come to Delhi, everyone keeps on telling me not go out and things like ‘It’s not safe’. Even my sister gets worried after the clock strikes nine. Moreover my guy friends will always suggest that they drop me at my PG. It’s really annoying. Why can’t I go back on my own? Shutting us in is no solution.
Those who molest should be restricted and not us,” said Shekhawat.

Her friend, Sakshi expressed similar views but also added that the concern by their peers even though genuine, is not a good sign. “Sometimes people aren’t wrong when they tell us not to go out or it’s not safe. There are times when we return from college library and drunkards are roaming around but that’s what we don’t want. The streets should be safe irrespective of whether we are out or not. Going home early is absolutely not a solution,” Sakshi said.