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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Vocal Streets: Jaipur’s Badass Patrolling Team Urge College Girls To Report Street Harassment And Promise Action

  • IWB Post
  •  August 3, 2018

 

“UNSAFE!” “UNSAFE!” “UNSAFE!” echoed the word as the girls of Maharani College responded to the question of what they feel while crossing the lonely streets, the overcrowded market areas and even in their own neighborhood and with certain members of their own family.

Today Indian Women Blog’s super team landed in Maharani College, Jaipur accompanied by the ACP of Mahila Cell, Ms. Dipti Joshi and her badass patrolling team of women who were greeted by the attentive faces of the students. The occasion, you ask? Well, it was our second workshop under our campaign Vocal Streets where we talked about creating the safe environment for reporting of sexual harassment.

Vocal streets

“It must have been around 5 pm, I was walking back home and this guy on his bike went past me really slow. He was flashing me his… well ‘body part’, in a broad daylight! I was shocked, unable to do anything other than stand rooted to my spot as he went by smiling,” shared one of the girls.

Vocal streets

When we entered Maharani College, we had noticed the unusual number of men loitering outside the gates, eyeing every girl that entered the campus. “They are always there, even though it’s an all-girl college. They say things, keep staring as if they were mentally stripping us,” said one of the students.

On this ACP Dipti assured them that they’ll be talking to their Principal and will remove these unnecessary elements around their college gates. Well, now that’s a Hurray!

Vocal streets

On driving the point on how one should protest when faced with harassment, our bubbly (and extremely witty, I would like to add) Brand Communication manager Namrata took a glass. She asked the girls to stop her when they think she has filled the glass enough and to be assertive when they say ‘Enough!’ As the rising water was reaching the glass’ brim, everyone began with feeble “no” and “enough” but as the water level got dangerously close to the edge everyone yelled in unison, “ENOUGH!!!”

“That’s the strength you need in your voice! Be assertive, be strong, and say it to his face that enough is enough, that no means no. Whether it is your own brother, your friend or some stranger,” Namrata urged.

Vocal streets

Vocal streets

Another student related, “I was in 9th class and going to school with my friends when suddenly a guy on a bike started following us. He came behind me and tried to touch my back. I quickly reacted and started beating him. He even fell off his bike and as soon as he could stand up, he ran like hell!” You go girl, you taught him a lesson.

Vocal streets

Next was IWB’s Head Communication and Social Media Mala, who also shared with the girls her story of when she was a mere child of nine and was harassed on an international flight. “I was 30,000 feet above the ground in a reputed international flight. I had just gone to the washroom when a man came behind and touched my behind. While I was in shock, I had been taught about good and bad touch. I had a bottle of juice in my hand which I threw on the guy and ran away.”

So, it is not the place, or the clothes, or the age of the victim, but the mentality of the harasser that counts, it is not us, it’s them, something that ACP Dipti went on to explain.

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“You’re a woman, I am a woman, so do we know what’s the key to be a happy, successful woman?” asked ACP Dipti Joshi.

The two words that stood above the sudden onslaught of answers were “Safety” and “Empowerment.”

Vocal streets

“Exactly! And we have the power to get ourselves these two super-necessary things. But not as our parents and samaj want us to. Not by hiding her face, or fearing to apply that red lipstick or by refraining to wear that favorite skirt. Nope, we can only be safe when we know our rights and become empowered when we exercise those very laws,” said ACP Dipti Joshi.

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Let me list out these 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
vocal streets

In addition, she shared some very important women-helpline numbers as well as details of woman 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.
  • Vocal streets

After this rather informative bit, it was time to bid farewell to the eager students of Maharani college but not before Namrata taught them how to engage with their inner strength and find their empowerment.

Vocal streets

“Brush it all off, the character assassinations by the society, that you are a slut for wearing a skirt, for putting on a red lipstick. Brush off that every stare that compelled you to think that you were actually the one at fault. All those “Patakha,” “Sexy body” and many words like this that accompany that leery stare, pick them and drop them away from your conscience as you stand. Raise your hands above your heads and say that you’re empowered, that you are taller than your harasser, that you will not accept the wrongs!”

Vocal streets

While the girls got up to do as Namrata said, as I myself did the same, I watched the girls standing with a renewed confidence in their eyes. 

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 and safe financial services at www.aubank.in 

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