It was more like a ‘slut stroll’ around the block with the total distance covered in a few minutes. But even in the searing heat , with the police and media bearing down on the Slutwalk Arthaat Besharmi Morcha , the women – and the many men who joined them – made their point over the two hours at Jantar Mantar . Women have been gawked at, groped at, labelled and objectified enough ; they aren’t taking it anymore . Hundreds gathered at Jantar Mantar to participate in the much-awaited walk against sexual harassment. Most participants were young though there was the occasional middle-aged one to lend support (the chief organizer, Umang Sabharwal’s aunt for instance) and couples dandling baby girls and hoping for a safer future for them . “I am doing it for her,” said Ketki Aggarwal gesturing toward her infant daughter , “When she grows up , I don’t want her to face any harassment . She should be able to walk freely .” Apart from the walk itself, there was a street play, Dastak , to create awareness on violence against women by Asmita Theatre Group and the Delhi Drum Circle performed during the two hours . Colourful placards were supplied in abundance by organizers.
Sabharwal was happy with the response the “movement” received. “I think this is a good turnout,” she said . About 25 volunteers smoothed the way for the walkers and there was a team of 15 organizers. Of all the celebrities who pledged support, only Nafisa Ali turned up. “It is very easy to get harassed in Delhi. We have to start from the homes and teach kids to respect women,” she said.
That the teaching won’t be easy or even swift, most could appreciate. “To achieve any sort of social change is not easy. We are all equally responsible for taking the movement further and will try to do that,” Sabharwal said. “There are severe violations against women and hopefully the movement will help address the issue. But that can’t happen overnight,” observed 24-year-old Vipin Kumar at the walk. However, that change is sorely needed was evidenced by the experience of walkers coming to Jantar Mantar by public transport.
Prachi Pratap and Natasha Singh, both students who chose to wear shorts, were ogled on their way. “We face that problem a lot,” said Pratap, “People were staring as I was walking from the station.” And shorts were about the most radical attire at the Slutwalk.