Nirantar and Citizen’s Collective Against Sexual Assault

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In the last few months, Delhi has seen several movements, protests, advocacy efforts against gender based violence. Nirantar has also been involved in various ways with these efforts at ensuring safety for women and gender-queer individuals.

Nirantar is part of the Citizens’ collective against sexual assault- a coalition of groups, organisations individuals in Delhi/NCR. It was formed in the wake of a spate of crimes against women that took place in the region in 2012 in the public domain. The Collective has come together to raise awareness about and protest against the extreme culture of sexual violence against women, girls and transgender people in Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon.in public and private homes.

The Collective raises these issues with the public, the media, as well as the administration and the police of Delhi-NCR and works in different ways to stop and prevent sexual harassment against vulnerable groups.  Nirantar has been part of this group since its inception. This group aims to organise protests and awareness campaigns in various parts of the city irrespective of any particular incident of violence.

One of the first rallies of the collective was the May 5th, 2012 rally against gender based violence from Barakhamba road to Jantar- Mantar. Members of Nirantar took active part from mobilisation to arranging logistics for the group.

Another protest was in front of Select City walk Mall, Saket, where we managed to circulate ‘parchas’ against gender based violence among the visitors of the mall. However, soon we were asked to leave the mall because it was creating ‘security’ threats to the mall owners and managers. There were several protests that continued in different parts of the city.

We still remember the day when we were protesting in Saket, Anupam PVR mall. This was one of our initiatives of engaging with people on GBV. We prepared skits on three issues. The first issue was about a girl who gets harassed for wearing short skirts!

The public around us, which was predominantly male, started hauling abusive comments at us. They say, “If there are jalebis, why will not the flies come to taste them?”. We were taken aback. Never in our lives had we expected this reaction from people. The next skit was on a girl from the North East and the last one was about an FTM person. We still remember the kind of abusive statements passed at us; how we were asked to behave like an ‘Indian’; how we were reminded that if we cross the limits,  would definitely face violence. We stayed on, trying hard to engage with the public with logic and rationale. However, the public was too aggressive and they continued with their logic of ‘blaming the victim’ for abuse.

The next day we read in the newspapers  the terrible news of a young woman being raped and killed in a moving bus in Delhi.

And we knew “the struggle continues”!

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