Men and women rallied in India’s capital on Sunday (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk), inspired by the “SlutWalk” protests which started in Toronto last April and has now spread in many countries : United States, Europe, Australia, South Korea and South Africa.
The aim of the protest in Delhi was to challenge the idea that the way a woman is dressed can justify sexual abuse or taunting. It is known as “Eve teasing” in India.
But in Delhi women were not dressed provocatively as some were in Canada where the “SlutWalks” were born after a policeman told students:“You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here […] I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.
In Delhi one protester told the BBC: “Every girl has the right to wear whatever she wants, to do whatever she wants to do with her body. It’s our lives, our decisions, unless it’s harming you, you have no right to say anything.”
One of the most dangerous countries for women
Another protesters said: “There are a lot of problems for women in Delhi because a lot of women do face sexual harassment and just a couple of weeks ago the chief of police of Delhi said that if a woman was out after 0200 she was responsible for what happens to her, and I don’t think that’s the right attitude.”
One of the protesters was Nishta Gautam, a 26-year-old mother who walked with her 2-year-old daughter in her arms.
She said: “I want to make sure that my girl does not grow up to face harassment the way my generation does.”
But India is currently going through changes: half of its 1.2 billion population is under age 25 and the country is urbanizing rapidly and is taking in global cultures. But even though more young women are working and living away from their families, social attitudes towards women remain conservative.
A recent study said India is still one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.
In 2008 almost 22,000 rape cases were reported in the country, which is 18% more than in 2004, said the National Crime Records Bureau.