Surbhi Tandon & Ishu Kumar (CCS Interns)

From eve-teasing in public spaces to molestation inside buses to sexual abuse at work places, an urban woman in Delhi has to face it all. Reiterating similar thoughts Umang Sabharwal , a Delhi University student, came up with idea of staging a Slut Walk in New Delhi. It is a spark from the fire created by women in Toronto. Umang says:

“We all know how unsafe Delhi is, violence happens to women in public spaces and every time it happens we never question the perpetrator of the crime, instead we lecture the girl about what they’re supposed to wear and where not to go. Gender stereotypes obligate us to be a certain way; they block our right to life. I have the right to go out, choose my clothes, profession or number of sexual partners and none of these could justify violence against me. We should be proud of our sexuality and who we are. It’s about time that we stop telling each other to ‘behave’ ourselves. The purpose of the walk is to shift the focus from the victim to perpetrator”

 

Some experts believe the idea of this Slut Walk is very elitist. They feel that the nature of this walk is more concerned with having fun rather than addressing critical issues faced daily by women in Delhi. Today we counter some of the arguments against the slut walk put forth in mainstream media.

In an article published in the Hindustan Times on 20th June 2011,  Amrit Dhillon argues :

(1) “In a country where 10 million babies have been killed in the womb because they were girls, where women are burnt for dowry, murdered in honour killings, face domestic violence so frequent it’s as common as a power cut, where Dalit women fear sexual humiliation by upper caste men and where young girls are forced into prostitution, who needs the right to dress like a slut?”

The conclusion doesn’t logically follow from the premises. The safety of women and their right to dress as they wish is an issue in itself and need not be mixed with the many problems faced by Indian women. While the Slut Walk focuses on one issue, it doesn’t prevent others from fighting for other issues.

 

(2) “My non-Indian friends in Delhi dress more conservatively than they would do in London or New York because they are aware of the cultural differences and wish to protect themselves against possible misinterpretation.”

“Cultural difference” often is the trade name for abiding by conservative norms. The fact that womyn from London and New York need to dress differently in Delhi is itself a reflection of a problem which the Slut Walk aims to address.

 

(3) In a  recent article titled Slut Walk,No thanks, Seema Goswami writes:

 

“Let’s look at this in another way. Let’s say you decide that it is your right as a law-abiding citizen to leave your front door unlocked when you go out. Is this likely to attract the attention of your friendly neighborhood burglar? Probably. Is it more likely that you will be robbed as a consequence? Of course.”

 

It is rather odd to compare a woman to a house, and reflects the authors underlying opinion. But that apart. Attention can take many forms, the whole point of the Slut Walk is to challenge certain kinds of attention. While Seema takes certain social norms to be ‘given’, the Slut Walk aims to challenge them.