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Sep
11

Retaliation in the form of ‘Slut Walk’

A week back when I was travelling by a public transport, someone passed some nasty comments on me, and I’m sure this would be a common scenario with most of the women in the world. Just to retaliate these actions a movement named Slutwalk was started.

Slutwalk protest began on 3rd April 2011 in Canada and became a movement of the masses. The rally began when a Toronto police officer suggested that for women to remain safe, they should stop dressing up like sluts. This statement infuriated every woman’s heart including mine, and this marked the beginning of a series of protests called the Slutwalk.

What is the most common reaction to a girl who is dressed ‘provocatively’? That she has no morals, etiquettes, or that she has a loose character. Isn’t it? Women and girls who become victims of sexual abuse are often told that they must have invited for undue attention by dressing inappropriately. Does that mean that women are to be blamed for the misconduct of men? Is it that only women who are “inappropriately” dressed are raped and abused? Haven’t we heard of cases when women from slums or even small villages who are covered from head to toe are raped?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines slut as “a woman who has more than one sleeping partner.” So going by this definition, I don’t understand how a girl can become a slut if she wears high heels or deep necked clothes or even makes many friends. To answer these questions the Slutwalk movement was started, a movement to remove the “Cultural Conditioning” among people. It aims to remove this age-old tradition of branding women on the basis of what they are wearing. If a woman wears shorts then she is a “slut” while if a man goes around wearing exactly the same thing he is neither branded in this manner nor fears any sort of victimization.
Majority of Indian women do not wear very skimpy outfits but the height of irony is that India is extremely unsafe for women. A large number of women face eve-teasing, molestation, and harassment regardless of what they are wearing. I myself have had such UNPLEASANT experiences while I was dressed in Salwar suit which is considered quite a ‘decent’ dress. So in the light of this tendency SLUT WALK becomes quite suitable.
June last year, the march took its turn to Delhi. As many as 700 citizens participated in the walk to make the movement a huge success. The point made was to “just let us be” How does it matter what you wear or how you walk or to whom you talk? It gives no one a right to pass nasty comments. The walk was followed by a street play by Asmita Theatre group. The play featured a fight for an equal place for women in this society. Legal amendments were not in their hands, but social reforms were surely there. The initiator of the walk, Ms. Umang Sabharwal posted on her Facebook page, “The purpose of a slut walk is to bring to the attention of society that the problem is not what we do, but what is done to us.“

Almost a month back, India celebrated its 65th Independence. But is India really independent? Where a girl has no freedom in what she wears. It’s an era where it’s said a girl walks shoulder to shoulder with a man. So then why on an extremely warm day, a boy can wear Sandoz and shorts and a girl cant. It is unsafe for girls to go out and party. Why? And if she does, she gets a label. Its hypocrisy on our part. Indian men, to be more specific, the bad Indian men need to be educated. They should be told that if we live life our way doesn’t mean that we are available. The problem is not with the clothing of women but with the mentality of men. Many people have outlined norms for a girl’s clothes, but is there anyone who will decide the limits of a man?
Slutwalk was one such event which motivated and inspired all the girls, in fact even boys to raise their voice against girl abuse. Everyone wants to have the privilege of being heard. But you have to know that some of us are not that privileged and need to count on others. Those of us who are privileged enough to have a space to talk need to be listening to those who don’t, or can’t. This walk does not only focus on freedom of clothing, but also on various crimes done to women, rape, human trafficking, female foeticide, dowry and purda system. It’s a strong voice against these injustices done to them. The purpose of the walk is to awaken the Indian society. It’s not illegal for a girl to trust her friend when he drops her home, but its highly illegal to what he does to her

Slut Walk is a good initiative and is addressing an important issue but what is required to make movements like these successful is to make the society aware of it. Women should be respected and so should their rights to live their life the way they want. This walk is not only about what I want to wear but also against all the injustice done to us. I don’t say disrespect your culture by wearing skimpy clothes. Wear what suits you well and what you can carry off comfortably. It’s not against any culture to dress comfortably, but it’s illegal as well as against any culture to do any injustice to women.
To conclude my argument, running away from the problem is not the solution. The problem may be minimised to an extent but will not be eliminated. What is required is to remove the problem from its very roots.