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Vocal Streets: IWB And Police Women Cell Team Up To Reclaim Safety On Jaipur Streets

  • IWB Post
  •  July 30, 2018

Hosting “Safe Streets” workshops are ways to start discussions about street harassment. It provides and affords opportunities for people to share their experiences and opinions as well as for the police to take necessary steps to make the streets safe again.

For any harasser, the identity of the female victim is irrelevant – all women are potential targets. Do not blame yourself for harassment that comes your way. Do not be ashamed of talking about it. And, definitely, do not be afraid to approach the police to file a report.

As part of IWB’s VOCAL STREETS campaign, we began the interactive workshop with the students and staff of ICG College, Jaipur and the Jaipur Police Force – the Women Cell, on July 30, 2018. Our main agenda was to deliver the message about different types of street harassment, the ways to combat it in the correct way and to feel safe on these streets. The Jaipur Police representative, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ms. Dipti Joshi was present in her capacity to encourage and guide the young women to take control of the situation and on how to file the police report.

Vocal Streets Campaign With Jaipur Police

We opened the workshop by explaining in detail the different types of street harassment and what it entails.

Verbal Harassment is undesirable comments, unpleasant gestures, blowing the horn, cat calls, air kissing noises, to name a few. Physical Harassment is when the offender follows a victim in the street, stands close in a threatening manner, blocks her path, all of which may lead to more aggressive actions. Lastly, is the Sexual Harassment when there are sexually charged comments, groping and indecent exposure.

To drive the point home and with some help from Bollywood, we asked the students to name a Bollywood movie scene where harassment was glorified in the name of love and what type of harassment would they call it. This exercise also made the understanding of types of harassment easier and relatable.

In the cult classic Sholay, Dharmendra gropes an uncomfortable Hema Malini while teaching her how to shoot. This itself is an endorsement of harassment as a way to a woman’s heart and at one point he even sings, “Koi haseena jab rootthjaatihai, aurbhihaseen ho jaatihai”. This boils down to sexual harassment in reality.

In Kick, Salman Khan lifts up the female lead Jacqueline Fernandes’ skirt with his teeth and follows her, surrounded by a group of men. When the girl realises what the hero is up to, she briefly shows annoyance. But hey, this is Bollywood and it glorifies harassment as a form of true undying love! But this is Sexual Harassment in the real world.

In Akshay Kumar’s Holiday, his character aggressively pursues the female lead, Sonakshi Sinha. At a traffic signal, he positions his motorbike’s mirror to catch her reflection and kisses it. The song Tu hi to hai is filmed on the male lead following the girl, grabbing and kissing the unwilling girl. This is both verbal and sexual harassment that is a criminal offense.

There were many hands raised to tell us their examples of types of harassment shown in Bollywood movies.

We discussed the power of NO and how they should not feel any social, cultural, moral, emotional, familial pressure on using that word when one feels threatened in their own space. To loosen up the intense workshop, we threw open the discussion, wherein we asked the students and staff alike to tell us the various kinds of name calling they experienced on the streets.

The hall resonated with shout-outs of all the vulgar and crass words that are hurled at them on the streets. These young women were appalled at catcalls of ‘Ae Pataka’, ‘O Patola’, ‘Ae Chalatihaikya 9 se 12’, ‘Baby Drive per chhalegikya’, ‘Hello Tota’, ‘I love you baby’, ‘Take my number, call me raatko’ – to name a few abusive words while walking the streets.

During the course of this workshop, we also talked about the most taboo topic in most family situations – where the perpetrator is known and how there is shame, guilt, and fear. And in many cases, the offender is a stranger. This has obviously touched many lives and there was a flurry of interactions about each one’s experiences.

One student talked about how an old uncle groped her as an 8-year-old, while another one spoke about how, on the pretext of some religious event, an uncle took her and several other girls her age and kissed them in a dark alley. Another student opened up about how a temple priest hugged her from behind, while one teacher talked how a man on an otherwise empty lane came on to her and said, “I am just brushing by and not raping you”. There was an incident described where two boys on a motorbike slapped her on the back and chest and drove away. A young woman spoke about how a van full of drunk men hit her two-wheeler and proceeded to call out derogatory words. Somewhere from the back of the hall came a soft voice telling how a man on a public transport stood by her shoulder and kept pushing and rubbing himself against her. One common occurrence for harassment was indecent exposure in public places and not so busy streets.

 

This exercise was most therapeutic for the young women as it gave them a place where they were able to talk about experiences that have weighed them down with guilt, shame, and fear. Like many of them voiced, it was liberating to address such issues and not be judged and also know that there are many women like them who have had similar harassment experiences.

Vocal Streets Campaign With Jaipur Police

IWB and Team Police emphasised on how sometimes we as women do not support other women in cases of harassment but instead become silent observers. This is a dis-service to all womenkind, since support system of family, friends and even society is of utmost importance in times like this. This point was interjected with another activity where the students participated in forming a human chain around another participant to explain how women should stand up for each other. This was to make them understand that there is power in number and we should all stand up and raise our united voice against such behavior.

Vocal Streets Campaign With Jaipur Police

ACP Ms. Dipti Joshi was a show-stealer when she stood up and welcomed each person into the fold of being respectable to oneself and responsible citizens. She spoke about the power of youth and how all energy should be channelised into making this a better country. She also gave out very important information in case of any threat or type of harassment.

The ACP was very vocal about that the police is there to protect the public and how women should trust their gut feeling and intuition. Per the IPC, any person who stares in a dis-respectful way, makes vulgar bodily gestures or touches himself, points at crass posters or follows the woman, is considered criminal and a report can be filed at the police station. ACP Joshi suggested that all complaints can be dropped in the complaint box in the college campus, which is to be opened every 15 days. She insisted that all incidents must be reported and women should be very aware and alert about their surroundings. All this will help us make a cleaner and safe country for women.

This followed by a detailed Q&A session where the students put forth some very pointed questions and ACP Joshi patiently and competently fielded all the queries.

ACP Joshi listed out several Indian Penal Codes for harassment every woman should know:

    1. IPC 294 – Singing lewd songs directed at women in public spaces is considered sexual harassment under IPC 294. The offenders could be jailed up to 3 months or be fined or both
    2. IPC Section 354 (A) – Demanding sexual favours despite indication of disinterest or making unwanted physical contact against a woman’s will is a crime and the man can face jail term up to 3 years. The accused can either face jail time ranging from 1-3 years or fine or both.
    3. IPC Section 354 (D) – Following someone with or without their knowledge is stalking and is an act of sexual harassment. The man can face jail term ranging 3-5 years coupled with fine.
    4. IPC 503 – If a woman’s clear refusal to someone’s sexual advances is met by threats to harm her physically or her reputation and property, it is a crime under IPC section 504. The man either face jail time of 2 years or fine or both.

vocal streets

  1. IPC Section 354 (C) – Watching, capturing or sharing images of a women engaging in a private act without her consent is voyeurism. The man faces 1-3 years jail term in addition to fine. If a man is convicted the second time, he faces jail term of 3-7 years along with fine.
  2. IPC Section 499 – Morphing pictures of a woman and sharing them with an intent to harass and defame her. The punishment may include 2 years of jail time and fine or both.
  3. Section 67 of the IT Act – Posting any obscene or defamatory material on a public online platform intending to harass a woman is a crime. The accused can face jail time up to 2 years and a fine.
  4. IPC Section 509 – Making sexually coloured remarks against a woman in a public area or abusing a woman with sexually coloured remarks on social media. The man can get 3 years jail time and fine.

In addition, some very important numbers as well as details of woman shelter was also given out:

  • Police Toll Free Number – 100
  • Garima, a dedicated Women Police Toll Free Number – 1090
  • Gandhinagar, Jaipur is a 100% dedicated women police station with all women officers
  • Aprajita Center – a 24-hours shelter for women. This shelter is equipped with medical, legal, psychological assistance. Women who need immediate help are able to stay in this shelter for 48 hours and avail of any of the above facilities.
  • JULU Patrolling Team has 52 teams who are dispatched to public places

The Police team also gave out information and pamphlets about the safety app RAJ MAHILA SURAKSHA App, which is being updated to be launched in the near future. She also mentioned that an app for panic situation – HIMMAT is in the planning stage and will be announced soon.

Closing a most power and enthusiasm filled workshop, we collected some anonymous information from the students. The main idea behind this short questionnaire is to collect data without names to help the Police take measures to make those unsafe areas safe again. Based on this data, the Police will conduct extra patrolling in those unsafe areas.

We asked:

  1. What area do you feel most unsafe in your city?
  2. What time do you feel most unsafe in those areas?
  3. Do you use a safety app currently – If yes, please specify?
  4. Suggestions on how the city Police can be more active and helpful in keeping the streets safe?

IWB and Police Teams are holding some more similar workshops at other women colleges to talk about safe streets and how to reclaim them, while our songstress Komal is teaming up with the City Police Band to make these streets Vocal.

Au Small Finance Bank, IWB’s Partner for campaign ‘Vocal Streets,’ is marching ahead with women to make streets vocal about their dreams and reclaim these spaces for their businesses. Hence, street Safety is our right, and we will own it! Check out its street-smart and safe financial services at www.aubank.in

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