After 19 years and 450 hearings, though convicted for molesting Ruchika, a 14 year old school girl and a tennis player, SPS Rathore is still smiling. The victim drank poison 16 years ago and killed herself, when she lost all hope for justice.

The victim instead of finding support and sympathy, finds herself being ostracised by a peer group that does not understand what’s happening.

More from the Indian-Home-Maker

With her story now the focus of a national debate, Ruchika's friends and family want you to help in their fight for justice. For her death anniversary this year, they have launched an online campaign at joinaradhna4ruchika@gmail.com

"I feel that Ruchika is still alive in every girl who is being molested, and violence against women. I request you to join us ... . I am launching a fight against molesters and against this system, also for fight for justice for my friend Ruchika" says Aradhana Parkash Gupta, who, as a teen, witness Ruchika being molested by a senior police officer in Haryana. Since then, Aradhana and her father have led a campaign to ensure that the policeman, SS Rathore, pays for assaulting a 14-year-old and then harassing her family, driving her to commit suicide.

more links:


Rathore denied bail:





Pune Action Heroes include: Smitha,


Location: Lawns, Eat Street- Necklace Road
Hyderabad Action Heroes include- Samir, Ramya, Nandini
facilitator- Samir
report writer- Ramya
minutes of the meeting- Nandini

Ramya reports:

Slide show- With the help of a technically proficient person, a flash movie that creates awareness on staring/stalking/sexual harassment will be made. Prasad’s IMAX will be approached to screen the movie in the minutes preceding the movie shows. More theatres will be roped in later on
Women-centric organizations local to Hyderabad, such as Asmitha Foundation can be involved in setting up and a manning a helpline for counselling victims. Nandini will follow it up through the secretary of Asmitha Foundation.
To reach out to more women and document experiences, student communities in Hyderabad will be targeted. There is need to spread the word around educational institutions such as OU, NALSAR and others. This will be taken up as soon the political situation in AP improves
Sessions can be conducted in companies like Deloitte and others which have a significant number of female employees.
  1. BITSAA, the BITS Pilani Alumni network can be utilized. Ramya will look into publishing a piece about Blank Noise in the next issue of the BITSAA newsletter.
  2. Dr. Reddy’s Foundation will be contacted in order to figure out the best way to organize our activities, to get in touch with the right people and to obtain more support.
  3. Samir will put in a word with Rotary Club for the same purpose.

The Hyderabad leg of Blank Noise meetings witnessed a lower-than-expected turnout with only three members getting together to chalk out an agenda for the city this year. While Nalini Nagarajan and Ramya Kumar were first-timers to Blank Noise, Samir Gandhi, who has been involved with the Hyderabad chapter for three years now gave the other two an idea of how far Blank Noise has gotten in Hyderabad.

Since there were only three members were present, the reading-aloud of scripts and enactment of role plays gave way to an informal exchange of views about sexual harassment. The focus was on the approach that Hyderabad would require, keeping in mind cultural nuances and local perspectives. A decent variety of ideas were thrown up and recorded faithfully. Owing to the proximity to Christmas vacation and the atmosphere of uncertainty prevailing in Hyderabad campuses, they will be carried forward January onwards.


report prepared by Prabhleen Tuteja:

The meting commenced with a ‘stranger’, Mr.Viral Tyagi, approaching one of the BN members, Ms. Purba, trying to advice her on what she was wearing. The conversation with him revealed that the person was drunk (at a public place) and his had no control of his senses. After arguing with him for sometime, the group decided to ignore him.

The meeting formally was initiated by Purba who shared the Agenda with the volunteers present. There was a formal introduction that each of the volunteers were asked for sharing their experience of eve-teasing and street sexual harassment in the place they hail from.

Ridhima, one of the volunteers had a similar experience to share as that of Prabhleen as both hail from Raipur, Chhattisgarh. They shared that the local transport in Raipur is individual based as most people have their bikes and two –wheelers to their disposal. So, eve teasing becomes common, as there are instances when one is followed throughout the way to just make a comment or make the other person uncomfortable in the manner possible. There have been instances when the cloth wrapped around by a girl on her face is pulled out to open, making it utterly traumatic for her.

Varsha from Nagpur added to the conversation, by articulating her experience of eve teasing in the city. It was noted by her that one has to change ones dressing sense to feel a part of the larger society. She shared that it was the mentality of the people that makes all the difference.

It was Neeraj, from Chandigarh, who claimed that it was not the city per se, but the basic amenities that one is exposed to and the infrastructure or the lack of it that affects the mentality of people.

But, Varsha, had a different story all together of her friend from Kerela, who moved out of traditional barriers laid by the society on her sense of dressing. So for her it is that the more the society tries to suppress some one, the more the number of cases that emerge.

Swati, from Ghaziyabad, shared her nightmares when she used to travel in buses to college and the comments she had to bear. She said she remembered this one time when she was asked by this person who ‘advised’ her not to wear cut sleeves to tuitions as it attracts wrong attention.

There was a sudden shift in the session, when the group conversation highlighted the fact that the degree of acceptability varied from society to society. For instance in Rajasthan, a woman’s attire is entirely different and what is considered to be ‘revealing. Also another such case was that of rural Bengal, where a woman is not required to war a blouse underneath.

But, in Tamanna, another volunteer’s case, it was embarrassing for her when she wore a sports skirt to a Basketball Match and was called name thereafter based on her outfit.

But it was agreed by the group that it was not the attire that can justify eve teasing. Swati shared that recently when she was traveling by Metro, she noticed a girl who was ‘decently’ dressed in a t-shirt and denims, slapping a guy who had been staring at her for long thus making it uncomfortable for her.

Chandrashekar added that one of his friends was actually found staring at a woman wearing a ‘burkha’ with a ‘hijab’, with no possible scope of admiring her beauty except her eyes.

Tamanna said that she no longer smiles at people with the fear of being mistaken by them and has now been only seen frowning at others. In fact, even if someone appreciates your beauty, you really don’t know to take it positive or not.

It was to this that Ridhima added that genuine conversations are not possible these days.

The session thereafter proceeded to its next part where all the volunteers were given this exercise of staring at a stranger around and observing his/her reaction. After the exercise, there were a few questions that were asked to the members. Prabhleen said that the girl she was looking at seemed approachable and that she seemed comfortable as both understood that they might be familiar to each other. But, for Ridhima, the guy whom she stared got at first conscious and is now wondering what happened.

Swati said she avoided staring at the males around and instead shared a look with one of the middle-aged couples who gave a confused look as well.

The session moved to a discussion on the reason for all the volunteers to work with Blank Noise.

For Tamanna, it was because of the fact that she didn’t like the fact that she had to change from what she was because of other people’s habits.

Neeraj felt the need to address this issue urgently. Changing the mindset is what Neeraj wishes for and aims at.

Empowering women and transforming the society to a better place to live in, is what is Chandrashekhars’s view for which he is associated with Blank Noise.

For Prabhleen, it was the issue and the creative and pragmatic process adopted by Blank Noise that urged her to get associated with Blank Noise apart from her academic interest in social legislation and gender.

For Ridhima, it was the issue of gender that instigated her to work on related projects for a better understanding on the same.

Varsha’s idea of her association was to help her as eve-teasing was something that she had experienced many a times.

Swati shared her view with Varsha and said that the girls change their lives because of certain restrictions. It is time for a larger change in the society.

Purba, who has been associated with Blank Noise, said that the first thing that strikes her is that ‘I am never to be blamed’. She said that the it is all about empowering oneself and that is what Blank Noise is all about.

Kriti, how works in the field of education said that we all want to connect and should do so instead of segregating on the basis of gender. A girl’s choice of mobility gets restricted when it comes to her safety in the evening. For her, a balance has to create between the ‘Indian’ and the ‘Western’ culture and ideology that are coming up these days.

She was interrupted when a few members did not agree with the concept of ‘westernization’ of the ‘Indian culture’. It was Purba who gave the example of a saree that is considered traditional, but if not more at least equally revealing as that of any short shirts worn under ‘western influence’. Moreover, again it was not the dress that one needs to change.

For Kriti though, a change could only come if the males sit together and discuss about the issue and get educated on it. But, Purba and a few others consented that it was not the teaching that could bring about a change. Tamanna added that it should work this way, ‘It is my life, I am not affecting you, so don’t affect me’.

But, Kriti still felt that is way too much to romanticize the idea.

The session proceeded with members sharing words, terms etc. that come first in their mind when one thinks of eve teasing. The following words were included-

For Ridhima it was ‘Disgusting’.

For Prabhleen the first word that strikes her was ‘Mall’(in Hindi).

For Tamanna, it was ‘whistling’ and terms like ‘Chalti Kya’

For Swati it was the uncomfortable noises that the boys try and make.

For Neeraj it was ‘Gulab Jamun’ and ‘Jugaad’.

For Purba it was ‘pushy’ as some one was trying to intrude in her personal space.

The session also saw sharing of personal experiences by the members who faced street sexual harassment at all sort of places, during any time of the day and with any means of transportation, be it Jama Masjid, or the Chandini Chowk market that leads to it, or be it a richkshaw or an auto when is traveling from one location to another. There is nothing much that is safe.

Purba and Chandrashekhar also shred their involvement with the previous projects and their experience during the same. They encouraged the group to take action and decide on the venues where the coming interventions could be located. The following venues were decided-

North Campus, University of Delhi.


Sarojini NAgar.

Lajpat Nagar.

Lodhi Garden

South Extension Market.

For the event, it was Chandrashkehar who has volunteered top coordinate the entire process and designs the next intervention of Blank Noise. The next meeting of the group was decided to be the 2nd of January, 2010.

BN Bangalore Meet. Dec 13

Location: Ulsoor Lake
Action Heroes include: Naksha Errappa, Apurva Mathad,
photos: Apurva Mathad


BN Bangalore Meet. Dec 13

Report prepared by Action Hero Naksha Errappa
photos: Apurva Mathad

The BN Bangalore meet started at 11.55 am at the Ulsoor Lake Cafe.
Attendees:Apurva ,Arpan,Farida,Manasa,Pratyush,Kunal,Naksha

"Smile at a Stranger " activity
Arpan:smiled at a man. the man felt weird and gave a 'half smile' back.

Pratyush:smiled at a man easily. then smiled at a lady who seemed to be searching for any association with him.

Manasa:smiled at a man who stared back.

Farida: felt easy smiling at an old man.

Naksha:SMiled at a woman who ave me the "who are you?" look.

Apurva:smiled at a man who averted his looks.


WHo are you? why are you here for this meeting?

Arpan:works as a software engineer at CISCO.
has followed our blog since a year.
has younger sisters in bombay . witness to an incident of harassment at work to a female colleague brought him here.

Kunal:with us since 2006.works in Advertising industry
"every woman i know has experienced eveteasing (old/young)."

Pratyush:PG Student(Media),Coimbatore
Followed us since along time. finds it 'ununderstandable' that why is it comments are passed everytime he walks with girls?
witness to an incident at a mumbai pub where 2 girls and him were followed for a long time and finally the man came up and asked pratyush if he could talk to the 2 girls!
witness to anoher incident where young boys eve teased girls.

Manasa: christ college student.1st year
tols my mum to avoid certain areas. realised something has to be done. can't ignore or live with it anymore.

farida: works at ANZ bank.
finds it impossible to travel by public transport without being eve teased.

Apurva: works at google.
learned about "hollaback" .looked for similar organisations here and got involved with BN. impressed by the 'artistic' approach to activities at BN.Also feels activities that gain sudden momentum also lose steam soon.

Naksha: Student
Doesn't believe that "stop eveteasing, stop harassment" rallies will work. its a mindset we need to change and that ll only happen over a long period of time.

What BN means to you.

people wrote down thei views..

woman standing their ground
bn is a tree whose roots are giving life to several others
sharing collective experiences

what street sexual harassment means to you
buses trains
crowded place
uninvited stupid uncivilised immoral unaaceptable
whsitling,grinning,kissing sounds,rubbing,
anything a woman is not comfortable with

Discussions about and around the 4 stories
I would not walk into this cafe if i were alone.

if you are wearing western clothes "maybe you are okay with a lil bit of extra attention".

people in short skirts anyway travel in cars.

degree of attention you get in different places in different for different clothes. so... who drwars the lines, who sets the rules?

women are attacked only if men realise there are no REPERCUSIONS.

clothes are just a justification or an excuse people use as they don't understand the root of the problem or don't want to face it. we need to break this by our "I never ask for it" activity.

On a TV show on Bindass channel, a girl was made to feel so sorry because she was in a noodle strap dress.

Outcomes of the MEET

Some suggestions

>> "there is no Public Campaigns (by the goverment) on eve teasing. there are some on deomestic violence .
So why don't we use stories like the 4 we just discussed to create a campaign . enacting the story or something like that.We
could use youtube".

SOme decisions
Jan 2nd :smile event
Location :Majestic

note- we might need to move it to jan 3rd ,sunday

Jan 9th :Clothes project


How these 7 can contribute to BN besides being a part of events and activitites.

Pratush:Video/Audio editing if software is given to him.

Manasa:Conduct events in her college

Arpan:corporate interactions with Cisco

BN Chennai Meet Dec 13

Blank Noise Meet Report

Place:Gandhi Mandapam,Chennai

Date:Dec 13 2009

The Blank Noise volunteers met up this time in the green environs of Gandhi Mandapam.A apt place,since Blank Noise is a non-violent and peaceful means of protest against street sexual harassment,legally termed as 'eve-teasing'.

The first group task was to identify a stranger,make eye contact and smile at them. There was a lot of hesistancy, especially among the men as they didn't want to appear like perpetrators of street sexual harassment or disturb the many couples in the park. Vivek said the person he made eye contact with looked confused at first and then ignored them, Prithy and Kingsley both said that their 'subjects' looked confused and then smiled back, Sathya said the person looked around a bit to make sure the smile was directed at him and then smiled back, Vandhana and Katheeja smiled at the same person, who gave them a very vary look and moved away and Vivekanand said the immediate response he got was a smile and that it was probably because of his lovely daughter he had brought to the meet.

Shreesha and Radhika joined us a little later, after the first task.

The volunteers -Katheeja(the organiser),John Kingsley(photo documenter),Vivek(MOM documenter),Vandhana(report documenter),Prithi,Vivek,Satya,Radhika and Sirisha were from a diverse background and of varied ages.We introduced ourselves,and spoke on what brought us to Blank Noise.

Prithy, a PR manager said she chose Blank Noise because she was angry at all the people who let the perpetrators of the hook.

Radhika, a potter said she was tired of how society saw unmarried women as free game and 'available' and wanted to voice her protest.

Vandhana said she was here bacause she wanted public perception about 'eve teasing' to change.

Katheeja was there because she didn't want to be the helpless victim and she wanted to be a part of the process against it.

Sathya quoted an incident of how he was a spectator of street sexual harassement and couldn't help because the harasser told him it was none of his business since the woman didn't complain. He was in the meeting because he wanted to do something.

We all agreed on one thing,that 'Street sexual harassment was no way not acceptable'.And that we were looking to Blank Noise as a means to solve the problem.Also,it's the first time in the Chennai meets,that the participants were not all female ..horray Blank Noise guys!

Word Association - Blank Noise

silent scream


reclaim your spaces




Street Sexual HArassement


power play


crossed arms


faceless strangers



Next,we made of sketch of garments we were harassed in.The guys drew pictures of garments they thought women would be harssed in.Different viewpoints emerged.The guys felt that short,tight and transparent clothing would lead to harassment.We gals showed our pictures .. a couple of us had drawn loose,shapeless clothing,and some our school uniforms.

Harassment doesn't really stem due to the victim's clothing,it just stems from the attacker's peversions.

We also read out the letters of Blank Noise action heroes.

Shreesha said how her job as a journalist requires her to work and travel late and narrated that street harassement was very common experience for her. She spoke of her most frightening experience when a person on the road started following her in the night and came upto her apartment till the security posts allowed him to. Katheeja told the group an incident which occured when she was 13, when a man asked for directions and then showed her his penis. Radhika spoke of how some men brazenly stand in front of her house and stare at her when she is sweeping the portico and refuse to move, claiming that they were on the road. This led to the discussion of power dynamics in street harassment. Vivekanad told us about a colleague who was pursued by a man in a bike and how that led to an accident. She fortunately remembered his registration number and the cops were able to track him down. The case is still pending.

We decided we would split the tasks of translating them into Tamil amongst ourselves.

Radhika had to leave at this point. She said, 'To me Blank Noise is about breaking the silence and I'm glad I broke my silence today'.

We talked about the clothes drive ..where clothes which you were harassed in are being collected,as a part of the "I NEVER ASK FOR IT' campaign..We decided to collect clothes ..from our friends,family,domestic help and office.

We all exchanged id's,visiting cards and decided on a tentative meeting point. Vivek agreed to be the next meeting coordinator.We decided tentatively to have our meeting in the 1st weekend of the New Year. We exchanged warm goodbyes and went our own way.

BN Dehradun meet. Dec 13

Location: CCD, Rajpur Road
Action Heroes include: Dhruv Bhola, Priyam Bhargava, Aviral Singhal, Amit Das, Prabal Pandey

photo credit: Prabal Pandey
Time keeper- Amit Das
Report writer- Priyam Bhargava
Meeting minutes- Dhruv Bhola

Meeting started at 15:05 hours. Placards were placed to identify the members which were received with weird stares by the cafe workers(Don't worry were not going to start off a protest march against the formation of Telangana).Here's how the meeting went.

1505 : Priyam, the script reader read out the objective of the meeting. The following from our group were identified as

15 10: The meeting started off with it's first exercise. Volunteers attempted to make an eye contact with a complete stranger and smile after the contact was made.We had our opinions to share.

Dhruv- "I made eye contact with this man sitting near our table because he was an easy

target. Apparently he was wondering what we were upto so it made my task

easy. Unfortunately, my smile was exchanged by a weird look.Obviously ,he didn't

feel comfortable and neither did I."

Amit- "I too found the same target.However, I met with the same result.I guess he didn't

feel comfortable with the staring and the smiling as well but he never found it

threatening.I felt uncomfortable carrying out the exercise".

Prabal-"I had the same target.He was an easy target.He didn't smile back just had an

awkward look on his face.He didn't find it threatening, just uncomfortable. I felt


(Later on we realized that person was none other than Aviral who was looking for

the BN volunteers.

Priyam-"I made eye contact with a girl about 25 years of age but when I smiled she looked

away.So I really can't say how she felt about it.

15 18 : Priyam continued with the script.Volunteers were asked to introduce themselves and give

their opinions of eve teasing relating to any incidents they may have experienced or

heard of,

Priyam- Priyam works with an NGO called the Latika Roy Foundation for children and

young adults with special needs. Her concern apart from that of every girl related

to eveteasing was sexual abuse of people with disabilities too.

Prabal- A student of BTECH from UPES , Dehradun he is perturbed by the kind of

harassment that goes on in the streets which are faced by not only women but

men alike.

Amit- Amit is a Law student from Gujarat, he got really concerned by eveteasing

when one of his own close friends got very affected by it.

Dhruv- Dhruv is in the Merchant Navy. His views were that eve teasing has been a

common topic of discussion amongst the people. One can never finish reading the

newspaper without finding an article about rape, sexual harassment or

misbehaviour with girls. Starting with small steps to create an awareness among

the people can make a major difference.

Aviral- Aviral is studying law at the Dehradun Law College.From his personal experience,

He finds it quite appalling to see the crowded buses in Delhi. For ladies it has

always been a nightmare..Having worked in call centres he feels Delhi will

definitely top the list when it comes to sexual harrassment".

15 45 :What are the words that come to your mind when we say street sexual


The response was quite interesting.




15 51 : What does Blank Noise mean to you/what are the words that come to your mind when we

say Blank Noise?

Prabal - NO NOISE





15 55 : Everyone drew a garment they believe girls experienced harassment in(for the boys) and

what they have experienced harassment in or have seen others expeience sexual

harassment in(for the girls).The drawings had the following responses:-

Aviral's - Aviral drew a short dress with the words NUN printed on it.He sure has a keen

sense of observation.Short dresses are asking for trouble from frustrated

wolves.However, to contradict this if a woman feels hot why can't she wear short

clothes like men wear t-shirts and shorts.

Amit's- Amit believed that even if a girl is wearing something ethnic or even jeans and

tees she will get sexually harassed.

Prabal's- Prabal drew a chest printed t-shirt, skinny jeans and mini skirts.Short clothes

means bulging eyes and through the roof testosterone levels.Again, one can put

forward the point mentioned above but Prabal had his own views when he drew

those clothings.

Priyam's-Priyam drew a salwar kameez.She too had the same opinion as Amit that how

much a girl is covered doesn't make a difference,having seen a friend of hers

encounter a terrifying experience.

Dhruv's- Dhruv drew a short t-shirt and a mini skirt.

1605 : The letters were read and discussed.

We live in a world where it has been observed that the character of a female is not a matter

of concern at all.Some see them as a source of pleasure,that's it.However, even if a female

has chosen prostitution as her occupation or as a dancer in a bar, when she is off working

hours and goes to say watch a movie or shopping, people have no right to harass her. As

mentioned in the letters, women are citizens who have the right to go wherever they

choose to. Another interesting point noted was that MARITAL RAPE is not a crime in

India.One would think that education can curb the situation but what about Shiney

Ahuja? He is well educated, comes from a good family and

unfortunately married.


Event co-ordinator : Priyam Bhargava

Event co-ordinating team : Priyam,Aviral,Amit,Dhruv,Prabal


16 55 : The team decided to meet again on Friday, 18th December at 1700 hours, venue

Barista, Indira Nagar being a more convenient location for everyone. To recapitulate,

everyone was satisfied with the way things turned out. Although we were just 5 of us, it

didn't discourage us. Next meeting, we've promised to get atleast one more volunteer

each, hoping to get a positive outcome then also.

BN Bombay (Dec 13th)

BN Bombay Dec 13.
Location: Prithvi Cafe
photos by Manu

Meeting Action Heroes include Aparna, Pooja, Dharam, Manu, Mohnish, Neha, Nainy, Rizwan, Mithila, Somek, Ranjana, Koel, Santanagirl, Trushant, Shivanga, Satish

Shohini Sen reports:

The meeting started with a short introduction of all the volunteers which was followed by the smiling activity.

The smile-at-a-stranger activity turned out to be a different experience for all of us.

Most, like Mithila, Trushant and Somek were comfortable with the activity. However, responses varied from the person being smiled at looking back puzzled and even running away to saying a " hello" back. It was not viewed as being threatening by any of the volunteers.

What could be noticed where that women, especially when being smiled at by men, felt uncomfortable and did not respond back. Men were more forthcoming and smiled back. Some volunteers chose to challenge their comfort levels further and smiled at people from the "labour" classes. Many got a slight or controlled smile as strangers tried to decide if they were supposed to be polite or think they are freaks!!

I think this activity let us try to go beyond our comfort levels. Even if we could do it usually, we would have chosen someone from the same gender, but the explicit instruction to try and choose someone from the opposite sex made us try a bit harder. I think at the end of it most of us were more comfortable about holding eye contact with some one we do not know. Which is quite different from the way we usually behave.

Next we discussed why we were there. Personal experiences were shared.

Aparna spoke about an incident which had happened to her mom. Her mom had once been harassed as men hung used condoms on the train compartment to intimidate the female passengers. This incident came to us as disgusting and lowly. Yet, the mentality of the people came through easily.

Ranjana also felt that people become so accustomed to being teased on roads that they find nothing wrong with it. Dharam brought up this interesting view point that politicians have never addressed the issue, deeming it as too trivial. And thus, each of us have to talk about it in order to solve it.

Nainy's own experiences has taught her not to feel guilty any more. And that was repeated by most of the volunteers, which seemed to back up the Blank Noise ideology ( No one asks for it). Most of the female volunteers had faced harassment in public transport. And irrespective of which class, place or city they went in, women were always treated with that attitude.

What stood out was that men as well as women had risen their voices about the issue, either because they had faced it themselves or had seen someone face it. All of us wanted a solution and wanted to speak about it. Rizwan's experience just made it clearer that we often just become mute spectators, in spite of the guilt conscience afterwards. Being a spectator is probably just as bad as being a perpetrator and a collective effort is needed to identify and address it now.

An interesting facet was brought up by Somek and Satish. Violence happens inside closed walls. And unlike street harassment, where people can raise a voice, most victims do not speak against domestic violence.

What we could gather from the various experiences was that street sexual harassment can happen anywhere and anytime, irrespective of the gender of the victim. And unless it happens to someone close (or herself) no one takes interest. It is time for that mentality to change.

Next we went on to discuss what blank noise meant to us. A couple of interesting words/ phrases came up.

BN to us means:

motivation, silent revolution,suppression,hope,change, non-violence,women,power of silence,

change,speaking out,collective efforts,silent voice against a streaking noise,relatable,

initiative,platform, for the masses by the masses

One of the more interesting ones was how Koel interpreted it. "Blank" to her is the feeling or numbness you get when you are harassed and "noise" stands for the noise you need to make, or the fact that you need to protest.

Next we made sketches of the clothes we were wearing when we had faced eve teasing (the guys drew clothes that they feel any victim may have worn). Most of the sketches were of casual clothes, nothing revealing or overtly sexy. A normal salwar kameez, a kurta, jeans and t shirt and even a school uniform. The school uniform incident was shared by me, and Mohnish asked us to read on the Indian Penalty Law which talks about a 'good' touch and a 'bad' touch.

Manou made an interesting observation. He drew a sketch of a girl- complete with a cap and gloves and jacket. He said that a girl can be eve teased while wearing anything. Clothes have nothing to do with it. Neha also pointed out that sometimes girls themselves make other girls feel uncomfortable. The way women stare if someone wears a more"sexier" or "daring" dress, goes on to say they feel that " these girls are just asking for it". It is not true. No matter what we wear, it is our bodies, and as long as we don't harm anyone else, and feel comfortable in our clothes, why shouldn't we?

I also told them about a friend of mine who had told me to wear "subtler" clothes so as to not give men any reason to letch after me. My point is, why should we "adjust" ourselves, our clothes, our way of walking/ talking/ living just because a certain section of the society are frustrated enough to gape at us? Isn't it the supposed to be the other way around? Shouldn't they be asked to change their mentality, instead of us changing our habits? Yes, it does sound idealistic, but with time it just might be possible. The experienced BN volunteers (Mohnish and Manou) spoke about some of the strategies they had adopted earlier. Guys had been given wallet cards hat they distributed to people. Girls read out letters by victims standing on raised platforms. This helped them to gather attention and with this curiosity came awareness.

Four of us also read out four different letters, written by anonymous victims. Their experiences, though nothing extraordinary, reminded us exactly how much harassment we face on a day-to-day basis. The other people in the meeting place (Prithvi Cafe) were also listening though none of them came up and joined (as it is there wasn't any place left to sit..Nice turnout that we had)..

We spoke about the new drives BN will be arranging. The clothes collection drive was cheered by all of us. Three of the volunteers would look into the event in more detail (Somek is the event co-coordinator, Rizwan and Koel will look around for a place to exhibit the clothes as well as ask for necessary permissions). The probable places so far are Carter Road, Amphitheater where many such intellectual exhibits are held. Some of us may also visit colleges to attract the younger crowd.

The next event, to happen on January 2nd, is the idle woman campaign. However, many of the volunteers found some problems with this. The points they made were

#1) What is the point f doing nothing at all? How does it help the cause?

#2) Why should one do something which doesn't make her comfortable?

#3) Even if she does it that day (since she knows others are around), she would probably never repeat the action on her own.

What I felt was this exercise would again make us cross our private place, our areas of comfort. And if, maybe, we do it once and see that it is ok, we might repeat the incident again. Maybe doing nothing at all would help when people are in a bad mood, or even if they are in a good mood. It is after all about being comfortable and unapologetic for being who I am, how I am.


The whole meeting was a refreshing experience. I think none of us knew much about what to expect. And since it wasn't a huge NGO we could talk to each other personally. We could give our views, share our experiences. So in a way the size and informal atmosphere helped.

I think most of us came because we wanted to come. No one invited us or forced us to support this cause. We came cause we believed in it, cause we can relate to it. And thats why I'm sure all of us would like to be involved with the group for a long time. No matter how much we can contribute and in what way, we would feel better that we are doing our part (or some parts of our part at least).


Check list: Sunday Dec 13

A big HELLO to all those attending the Blank Noise meet this Sunday!
Just a couple of things we would like you to take note of:
The meet will be on for 2 hours. The start and end time varies in different cities, so make sure to check your city's name and time before you head out.
To avoid confusion, you might want to get to your location 10 minutes prior to the meeting time. The meet will start on time and end on time.
We will be sending you a contact number for the city. In case of urgent situation, you can always reach us at 98868 40612.

Do get in touch with us asap
- if you would like to volunteer to take photos for the meet.
- if you would like to volunteer to take down minutes of the meeting.
- if you would like to write a summary/ report of the meeting

Blank Noise Team



Hello Blank Noise!
BN Action Heroes across the country are meeting this Sunday, Dec 13th!

We hope that this meet sparks off a series of events and actions from Jan 2010. You can make it happen and be an Action Hero.

We hope to see you there in true Action Hero spirit.

To attend a meet, email us at blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com with your phone number and city name. You can also share it on the facebook events wall if you see your city/ town/ place listed. Don't forget to bring along an interested friend, colleague, family member, neighbour if street sexual violence/ 'eve teasing' is every person's issue- every body is welcome.

List of cities and venues for the next BN meet up

Bangalore: Ulsoor Lake Cafe 11 am

Bhopal: Cafe Coffee Day, Maliviya Nagar near New Market 6 pm

Bombay: Prithvi Cafe 3 pm

Dehradun: Cafe Coffee Day, Rajpur Road 3 pm

Delh: Central Park. Connaught Place. 3 pm

Calcutta: . Dakhinapan 3 pm.

Chennai: Gandhi Mandapam 11 am

Guwahati: Brown Bean Cafe. Uzan Bazar 11 am

Hyderabad: Lawns by Eat Street 3 pm

Jaipur: Cafe Coffee Day, Gaurav Towers, Malviya Nar 2 30 pm

Lucknow : India Coffee House. Hazrat Ganj 3 pm

Pune: NCC Canteen. Senapati Bapat Road 4 pm

Allahabad location and time yet to be confirmed

Cochin location and time yet to be confirmed

Chandigarh location and time yet to be confirmed

Jalandar location and time yet to be confirmed.

If you would like to have a BN meet in your city, get in touch with us asap.
e: blurtblanknoise at gmail.com

twitter : http://twitter.com/blank_noise

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=204917024696

Stay tuned. More details to follow!
Yours truly
BN Team

Action Heroes List below:
(email us with your city name and contact details and we will add your name to the list below)

Chennai Action Heroes:

Katheeja Talha, John Kingsley, Ruhi, Prithi, Vandana Mohanraj, Vivek Rao, Radhika , Sathya, S Vivekanand +

Bombay Action Heroes :
Trushant, Amit, Rizwan,Mohnish,
Mithila Vaidya, Nainy Sahani, Mohnish Moorjani, Shohini Sen, Manu, Annie, Sharmistha, Dharam Dhutia , Koel, +

Delhi Action Heroes:

Megha Bhatia, Chandrashekhar Bhattacharya, Abhishek Baxi, Bedatri , Purba Sarkar, Sonia Singhal , Inla Imti, Prabhleen Tuteja , Varsha, Ridhima, +

Dehradun Action Heroes:
Aviral Singhal, Aakar, Priyam Bhargava, Amit Das , Dhruv , Prabal, Hema, Rizwan, Satendra,
Saahil, Samiksha+

Hyderabad Action Heroes:

Sunayana Sitaram, Nandini, Ramya (+ friends), Nandini Raja, Samir Gandhi +

Bangalore Action Heroes:
Mayur, Naksha, Vibha, Nina, Itisha Apurva Mathad , Meghna Rajamane, Shalini Nair, Manasa +

Calcutta Action Heroes:
Saptarshi, Mandy +, Sunayana Roy, Bhablet, Parmeet, Rupam, Kamal, Pavan +

Lucknow Action Heroes:
Himika Malik, Nabila Zaidi, Shinjini, Siddarth Misra,Vaaruni Pathak, Vinita Jaiswal +

Bhopal Action Heroes:
Harshika + , Utkarsh

Guwahati Action Heroes:

Abhishek Bora, Kasturi +

Jaipur Action Heroes:
Vivek Kakkar +

Pune Action Heroes:

Smitha, Nilankur,Anita Iyer, Javits Rajendran, Arpita UK, Somitra Chatterjee, Gullika



Hello Blank Noise members, friends, volunteers, readers, supporters, skeptics, critics, enthusiasts

We are gearing towards our next season of events starting Jan 2010 Until then we are working 'back stage' to ensure that we can kickstart Jan!
Stay tuned and make sure you're there in true Action Hero spirit!

We are looking out for volunteers and or interns with the following skills
1. video editing- (final cut pro)
2. flash programme
3. sound recording/ editing
4.background in electrical engineering
5. background in programming
6. fund raising intern- someone who can dedicate time to Blank Noise to raise funds

To apply email us at the earliest blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com. It would be better still if you could add
a sample of the work or a link of the work you have done before and ofcourse a short note about you.

This email is for any one and everyone- for those who have volunteered with Blank Noise in the past, and or
are completely new to it. Please note that we are not just open to volunteers with only the skills mentioned above,
anyone and everyone can volunteer. Everyone brings a unique skill to the collective, be it making tea or making conversations!

To know more
sign up here: http://blog.blanknoise.org/2008/10/calling-blank-noise-volunteers-call-for.html

In spirit!
Blank Noise Team


Pink Taxi. Pink Bus.

Remember the blog post about the Pink Ladies Special Bangalore Municipal Transport Corporation bus?

Now there's a pink taxi in Puebla, Mexico too.

And women only park in Iran

And women only hotel in Riyadh

And women only bus service in Mexico City.

And women only cars in Tokyo

And MODESTY BUSES in Jerusalem

And women only taxis in Dublin

And women only PINK coaches in Mexico City

this list is to be continued...

With this we ask again:
How do you experience public environments that are exclusively male or female.
Do you see this as a strategy that 'tackles' the issue?
What would you propose to make public commuting safe?
(answer in any colour you like)


On being asked if Bangalore is safe or unsafe

Is Bangalore safe or unsafe? If Bangalore is not safe then is it our responsibility, or that of the state or corporation to make Bangalore safe? Is Bangalore particularly unsafe for a certain type of woman or is it a certain type of woman that is speaking of feeling unsafe? Moreover what makes it unsafe? I refuse to declare “Bangalore safe” or to declare “Bangalore unsafe” because I am weary of the repercussions of both statements.

I was walking in my neighbourhood and I heard a hissing sound directed at me, followed by a “ baap re”- the usual provocation that we tend to ignore. It came from a security guard. I looked at him and continued to make eye contact until I left the location. He had been spotted, identified, confronted - but not in a manner that would make me feel safer if I walked there the next time.

Following the incident I made it a point to go over to the dhobi couple who iron clothes right opposite the security guard's building and have a friendly chat with them or to simply smile at them each time I passed by. This friendly exchange established me as a member of the locality. I find it comforting. It’s not always strategic; smiling in public can be fun.

Recently, I have been trying to speak in Kannada when I take autos. I have discussed auto unions, traffic jams and my Kannada speaking efforts with the drivers. In this process something has shifted between the potential aggressor and me. I feel less defensive.
Publish Post

The examples above should not be misinterpreted as urging that “women should do something to make themselves feel safer”. Women always have done things to feel safer. It is unfortunately fear-based and gets manifested in the following ways- carrying silly pepper sprays, blade, nail cutter, safety pins. Many women don’t even step out alone-always in groups, with a male member of the family, or chauffer driven. We fear, we don’t engage, we make the public space more alien; we make ourselves even more vulnerable.

The state recognises this vulnerability and seeks to counter it: for instance, acknowledging sexual violence in public transport, the Bangalore transport corporation has a pink bus- women’s only. It might work on an immediate level but does not really address the issue and serves to further segregate society.

Corporations have also been spurred to action. Following the murder and rape of a BPO employee- Pratibha Murthy (2005), HR officials announced special measures for dropping women home; women were made to feel safer by once again adopting methods that situate them as vulnerable rather than by empowering them.

A part of me is relieved when I hear about ‘reported’ assaults on women, so much in the news recently, here in Karnataka. It demonstrates that finally some women are speaking up, being heard, filing FIRs, and talking to media. The issue becomes ‘urgent’ and important instead of being ‘normal, expected and accepted’. We are no longer dismissing it as ’teasing’.
But alarmingly, the reports introduced a new kind of sexual violence that included women’s clothes being torn off, and brute violence. As a result, a climate of fear developed. For example, I was out for dinner the evening I heard about an assault in the neighbourhood. A gang of men had attacked the individual, punching and tearing off her clothes. Instead of taking an auto back at 10 30 pm, that night I took a taxi (but then, I have that luxury of choice). This was followed by more assaults all within a span of 2 weeks. All reported cases were attacks on a particular type of woman- English-speaking, jeans-wearing, seemingly independent and confident. As a result I had several well wishers cautioning me to dress conservatively- that is in traditional Indian clothes. I found myself hyper alert even during a casual evening walk. On some evenings I had to force myself to walk out in the evening; cell phone in hand. I was equipped. I felt nervous, brave… and exhausted.

In the past I have taken auto rickshaws at 6 am, 11 pm and 1 am. I have been in buses at all hours too. I did that with a sense of adventure and have reached my destination- safe. When the assaults were reported in the city, I found myself feeling like I was taking a risk by hiring public transport at 8 pm.

Being away from the city for a month and returning to no ‘fresh news’ about sexual harassment made me feel calmer. This not to say that there were none. Perhaps they just weren’t reported. Perhaps they happened to women who won’t know how to file an FIR or perhaps never see the point in talking about it. The reasons are infinite. Do we hear stories from middle aged women experiencing sexual violence? Women who live on the streets? Sex workers? These are just some of the provocative questions that recent violence has thrown up. Most importantly, I find myself asking: should we as women continue to deny ourselves the city because it has been declared unsafe? Can we look at current violence as a warning to address male attitudes?

The piece was first published in Elle Magazine. September 2009 issue.