'SlutWalk' plan triggers debate

2011-06-22 16:02

New Delhi - Plans by a group of women to hold a "SlutWalk" in New Delhi to protest sexual violence have triggered a debate on whether such marches are appropriate in India and can change mindsets about women's status in the conservative society.

Organiser Umang Sabarwal said on Wednesday the march is aimed at shifting blame from victims to perpetrators of crimes against women.

Similar marches have been held in cities around the world. The protests, which originated in Toronto, Canada, were sparked by a police officer's remark that women could avoid being raped by not dressing like "sluts". They protest the notion that a woman's appearance can explain or excuse attacks.

Millions of women are working in most sectors of the booming Indian economy but social attitudes have been slow to change and women face a daily barrage of sexual harassment.

Sabarwal, a Delhi University student, said the objective of the walk is to get people thinking about how women's lives and actions are restricted by the threat of harassment.

"We want to focus on changing social attitudes toward women," she said. "Every time a woman is assaulted, people don't blame the perpetrator of the crime. Instead women get a lecture about what they're supposed to wear and where they can go or not go."

However, plans for the walk have also drawn criticism from many women who say the use of the term "slut walk" is derogatory.

Craving attention

"Naming the protest 'slut walk' degrades women even if it has shock value," said Shobha De, a best-selling fiction writer.

"It's a campaign driven by women in the West. It does not connect with women in the Indian context," De said on Wednesday on the TimesNow television channel.

Others accuse the organisers of craving media attention.

"How is this walk going to help millions of women in India? They are doing this for sensational footage on television," said Shaina NC, a Mumbai-based designer.

India, a rapidly modernising country, has a high incidence of rapes and sexual attacks on women. A government-backed United Nations survey found that about 85% of women in New Delhi are afraid of being sexually harassed while outside their homes for work or study.

The march, scheduled for late July, has been renamed "Besharmi Morcha", which means "Shameless Protest" in Hindi.

"The idea is to reach out to a maximum number of people, and people in India are better versed in Hindi than English as opposed to other countries where the 'SlutWalk' has been a success," said Mishika Singh, a college student involved in the campaign.

  • thabo.tebele - 2011-06-22 16:28

    Wish I could be over a spectator

      wsm - 2011-08-21 20:30

      This type of protest helps b....all. As long as men AND women COMBINED do not become active in taking up the battle with the media and the film industry that is shamelessly promoting free sex and pornography, you can forget about having any impact through this kind of protest action - it only makes some people feel good because they participated, but it's completely and utterly useless... It will not change a thing. The fact is there are men who want to rape. There are also men who are inspired to rape by pornography.There are men who struggle with sexual desires who have a hard time because of half-naked woman in advertisements and in films and on TV. Then there are women who give the impression they are sluts by the way they dress - they are just as guilty in awakening rape thoughts in men, especially is they frequent places where the wrong guys hang out. Woman: Enjoy your freedom to dress as you wish, but remember: if you give a guy the wrong signals, he will grab you, and you will not be innocent in the matter. The whole thing of 'slut walk' is a farce..

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