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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Vocal Streets: Jaipur College Girls Speak Up Against Street Sexual Harassment

  • IWB Post
  •  August 5, 2018

 

“Madam, ye F-U-C-K kya hota hai?” he asked me with a sly smile on his face. “You know, I am not the right person to answer this question, why don’t you ask your mother or your sister, or better your daughter, I am sure they’ll be able to tell you.”

While IWB’s Head Communication and Social Media Mala’s answer had shut up the shameless cab driver, such instances of verbal sexual harassment are not lone incidents. Every girl, irrespective of her age, dressing style, the colour of her lipstick, etc. battles these experiences in daylight and dead of night. With campaign Vocal Streets, IWB aims to create awareness about unsafe areas in cities across India, to partner with police for swift actions, and also to enable safe environment for reporting of street sexual harassment.

Today our destination was the campus of Jaipur National University where we held our third workshop for the eager audience, who found Mala’s story rather relatable.

Vocal Streets

“Often, girls when being harassed choose not to report as they think that by bringing the incident to other’s notice they will be stripped of their dignity and shamed, they believe that it’s their fault that they had been targeted. Some of us are afraid of what people will say,” said Mala. “We need to remember that it is the harasser at fault here, not us.”

Vocal Streets

“True that, also don’t expect that every harasser is going to have Tera Naam’s Salmaan Khan hairstyle and wear pointy shoes,” said Namrata, IWB’s Brand Communication Manager, breaking the serious silence reigning in the hall as everyone broke into laughter at her apt analogy. “He can be educated, from a well-to-do family and yet retaining that degraded mentality.”

As Mala proceeded to explain the three types of harassment, starting with verbal abuse, Namrata asked for the examples from the audience.

Vocal Streets

“So let’s just assume that I am walking on a lonely street and suddenly three guys start following me. ‘Aao didi ghar chod aau to bolengey nhi.’ *everyone laughs* 

Vocal Streets

“Patola.”

“Maal.”

“Tota.”

Are kya body hai!” were some of the responses from the audience.

Vocal Streets

Mala explained that physical harassment ranges from an attempt to touch to inhibiting your personal space.

Vocal Streets

Namrata demonstrating to the students, how the harasser in the bus was standing over her.

“I was sitting in a bus and a man was standing right by my side, facing me. With the moving motion of the bus, he kept hitting his penis against my shoulder. While some would argue that he wasn’t at fault here because it was the moving bus, he kept doing the same thing even when the bus halted at a stop. Embarrassed, I got down from the bus,” shared one of the students.

Vocal Streets

Another girl shared how when she was in school, her Hindi teacher used to call her in his office alone repeatedly, although he never did anything ‘extreme,’ she was still very wary of him and his eyes.

“There is no ‘extreme’ in harassment. He made you feel scared, encroached on your mental space,” said Mala. “And I would like to stress again that it is the harasser at fault, never you.”

Vocal Streets

“Recently came the news that 8 men raped a pregnant goat. Do tell what she did to provoke them. Was she wearing a mini-skirt, or was she showing her cleavage or had red lipstick on? Nahi na?” asked Namrata.

Vocal Streets

It was here that ACP of Mahila Cell, Ms. Dipti Joshi, and JULU, her badass patrolling team of women took over the stage to list out the important laws, that you should exercise when faced with harassment:

    1. IPC 294 – When someone is singing lewd songs directed at women in public spaces. It is considered sexual harassment under IPC 294 and under it, the offenders could be jailed up to 3 months or be fined or both
    2. IPC Section 354 (A) – Demanding sexual favors despite the indication of disinterest or making unwanted physical contact against a woman’s will is a crime and the harasser can face jail term 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 with amounts to a jail term ranging 3-5 years 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 faces jail time of 2 years or fine or both.
    5. IPC Section 354 (C) – Watching, capturing or sharing images of a woman engaging in a private act without her consent is voyeurism. The man faces 1-3 years jail term in addition to a fine. If a man is convicted the second time, he faces a jail term of 3-7 years along with fine.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. IPC Section 509 – Making sexually colored remarks against a woman in a public area or abusing a woman with sexually colored remarks on social media. The man can get 3 years of jail time and fine.

vocal streets

In addition, ACP Dipti shared some very important women-helpline numbers as well as details of shelters:

  • Police Toll-Free Number – 100
  • Garima, a dedicated Women Police Toll-Free Number – 1090 (You can even contact them via Whatsapp on the number 8764868200.
  • Gandhinagar, Jaipur has a 100% dedicated women police station with all women officers ready to provide you the promptness and empathy you need.
  • Aprajita Center – a 24-hours shelter for women. This shelter is equipped with medical, legal, psychological assistance. Women who need immediate help can stay in this shelter for 48 hours and avail of any of the above facilities.
  • JULU- the All-Women Patrolling Team in Jaipur that has 52 teams, dispatched to public places to curb incidents of harassment.
  • Raj Mahila Suraksha app, to be launched next month to help women in distress.

“Don’t be afraid to come to us. Though our image has been represented as someone who fails to help the public, I assure you that we are here to empower you,” ACP Dipti said.

Vocal Streets

“Once I got a call from some guy claiming to be from Snapdeal. He said that I have won some contest under which I can either take money or a car. I thought of it as one of my friends fooling with me and jokingly replied that I would like the car. In his reply he said, that I should give him a kiss and take the car,” a student shared. “I disconnected the call but he kept calling me and messaging me.”

Vocal Streets

“You can call at 1090, the toll-free women police number and register the case over the phone itself. And you’ll be visited by a woman police officer to take the investigation forward. A safe woman makes a safe city – that’s our mantra,” responded ACP Dipti.

Vocal Streets

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

Stay tuned to see IWB taking over Jaipur Streets with Police Band! Let’s make noise, speak up and reclaim our city’s streets.

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