How these women turn catnap into a fight to claim public space

How these women turn catnap into a fight to claim public space

If someone had suggested to Shruti Chandrashekharan a few years ago that she should take a nap at a public park, she would have laughed it off.

But on Saturday, Shruti, a law graduate, joined several young women to have a relaxing stretch at Cubbon Park, a symbolic effort to regain the public space.

That the event -#MeetToSleep - was organised to commemorate the day when a 23-year-old woman, Nirbhaya to many people, was brutally raped on a moving bus and later thrown out and left to die in Delhi five years ago underscored the significance of what these women were trying to achieve.

"We have been apprehensive of an act as simple as sleeping in a park due to the fear of being judged or being targeted for violence," Shruti said.

"Though we have always aspired to be free, we are scared to act, and this initiative has helped me overcome those inhibitions and fears," she added.

Two organisations - a volunteer-led project Blank Noise founded by Jasmeen Patheja and NGO Sangat established by author and activist Kamla Bhasin - organised the event in Bengaluru between 12 pm and 4 pm on Saturday.

But #MeetToSleep is global in reach, as hundreds of women in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bhopal and even San Francisco headed to public parks for a nap.

"We have organised many #MeetToSleep events over the years to assert the right of a woman to be defenceless and free from fear," said Jasmeen, a former Ashoka fellow. "Women from all walks of lives have taken part in our events, including mothers and daughters," she said.

Being a part of the event helped designer Eeshita Kapadia check how free she could be as a woman and how vulnerable many like her are in a safe place like a park.

"This activity made me introspect my fears and make an effort to overcome it," she said.

BoX

#MeetToSleep event  

* Women met at Cubbon Park to  take a  nap  

* Event commemorated the fifth year  of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape incident

* Participants speak of overcoming fear of public spaces

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