photo credits. Punit and Yamini
Yamini Deen reports:
After so many Blank Noise interventions, the street in my head is like a laboratory of delicious experiments- those of provocation, the test of limits .
The street tells so many stories of wooing , of harassing, of hookers , of control, of sexuality .
SO Gateway Sunday was one such experience.
I walked up and down the promenade for a while. I went and politely handed the letter to anyone who responded to me in some way-lewd, curious,anything.
Some men would look at me up and down in the lewdest way possible and get completey flabbergasted if I went up to them, smiled and handed a letter.
Guilt? Fear? Something they didn't expect?
One man came to me and said
''So you think I am eve teasing you''?
''Why did you only give me the letter''?
He later told a male friend.
'If a girl walks ''that way''..you know one assumes she is asking for sex.'
But Gateway is also a space where they pick up men/women for sex. is the line between being unapologetic and sexually overt so thin?
But I am by now extremely unapologetic about my walking.
Anyhow, in the corner right in front of a gateway of India stood a pretty white woman in a short yellow dress. When I first spotted her, men collected in a line , at a 'safe' distance and stared.
She fiddled with her phone.I handed her a letter and left.
After a while, I went there and noticed that men were taking turns to take pictures with her.
(This while she was holding our letter)
She was smiling. The crowd thickened. Rumours flew like sparks and at other parts of the promenade, fellow blank noise members overheard conversations
about Preity Zinta or 'some' celebrity being there.
(A photo op for random loiterers, is that the new hobby of celebrities?)
Well.,after a while, about 40 men had crowded around her taking turns to take a picture with her.They helped themselves to her waist while holding her.
And she was smiling , mostly, slightly embarrassed , occasionally uncomfortable.
And maybe behind all mobs, there are a few complacent cops standing at a corner.
We asked the cops why they didn't stop anyone.
They said it was because she agreed to have her picture taken.
I was wondering then if in my mind I allowed the thought that she might have actually enjoyed the attention.And NOT in a negative way- not in a she deserved it sort of a way.
We asked her and she said 'Now , ask them to go.'
It was like a constant seesaw between comfort and discomfort for her.She never really looked threatened, to me atleast.
The only thing that worried me was how the mob gathered so fast, and mobs being mobs, can go out of control.
Which again brings me to the question of when attention is threatening, when it is mildly irritating, when it is flattering and when it can make you bawl.
Action Heroes include: Yamini Deen, Pranav Joshi, Kismet Nakai, Punit, April.
Next event: Blank Noise Bombay on March 29th. Sunday.
CALLING ACTION HEROES. REPORT AT blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com
1. Donna Fernandes (Vimochana) – Is it possible for a ½ day meeting with women from various NGOs and the police? We never get through to ACPs or Inspectors when we call the police station. We want time with you so we can better the system.
Ajay Singh – What I wanted was a half day meeting with the Commissioner. I will call Infant (ADGP law and Order, State) and invite some senior officers.
2. Group – Every month the Commissioner needs 2-3 hours to hear women's voices and NGO voices.
Ajay Singh – I can't disclose very much but I have written to him about the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and about your incidents. I have told him that these are serious investigations. It has been very disturbing for me to read your email (gesturing Rest House Road complainants).
3. Priya (victim) – Filing an FIR is the last resort and we are strong and vocal but there are so many more people who are not filing FIRs. Can a note be sent to police stations highlighting the particular incidents and urging police to take action in such cases?
Ajay Kumar Singh – Great idea will you help me work on it?
4. Group – Public communication, billboards needed.
Ajay Kumar Singh - This is a good idea.(The group needs to figure a way to take this forward)
5. Donna – It's crucial for communities to get together at various police station levels and the ACP should publicly commit themselves that these issues will not be taken lightly. We need to marginalise these intolerant voices. The local police, MLAs should be on the panel and commit themselves.
Singh – The MLAs will be busy till the elections are over.
6. Jiti – Can we build in measures like surety - what other legal interventions can be made to ensure justice?
Singh – We also get the blame for many things that are not our fault and that are the blame of other departments. For instance after the Mangalore open meeting women are saying we released the suspects but actually the courts released them. Surety/Self bail: I don't know what we as Police can suggest – may be you can meet the Administrative judge.
7. Archana – Is there any one single emergency contact number?
Singh – Well in addition to 100 do pass on this number, it's the DGPs control room and I will instruct them to contact the local police station: 22942111.
Referring to memorandum in front of him: I've agreed to almost all of these. I'll have to call the Commissioner and other officers and we can take this forward.
8. Donna - Can we have a higher monitoring committee of senior officers who will oversee the process of such cases right from the filing of the FIR?
Singh - I will pass an order immediately. (Calls PA in and issues orders to Pujar to oversee these particular incidents).
Agrees to a “a half day meeting that will end in something productive” and to issue a public statement after meeting with officers and going through the memorandum. Has also asked for a copy of all fled FIRs which was dropped off at his office the next day.
We are now waiting for him to revert to us.
are going to hear a response from the IGP. We will keep you updated.
7th March 2009
Director General of Police
We approach you with a sense of anger as well as sadness that as we gather to celebrate International Women's Day, there is a growing sense of insecurity and fear in the state as far as women are concerned.
Over the last one month several women have been violently attacked across Karnataka.
In Bangalore alone:
* On 28 February 2009 at 10.30 pm, Sanjana got hit by two men on a bike who slowed down, socked her on her jaw and fled away.
* On 24 February 2009, Vandana was attacked at around 9 pm by four men who punched her, hit her, and abused her for wearing jeans.
On 17 February 2009, two men chased Archana's car at 1.30 pm. One chased her with a large stone as she ran to a friend’s house for refuge.
That same week, Jasmine (name changed) was attacked by four middle-aged men at 11.30 am when her auto broke down. They physically assaulted and tried to disrobe her while yelling obscenities.
More than 70 attacks cases of moral policing have been reported from all over Karnataka in the last six months for supposed violations of the moral code like a Hindu girl talking to a Muslim boy, attack on a dance school, attack on girls and boys from different religions who 'dare' to go out together. ( We annex a summary of these incidents reported in both the English and Kannada press ).
The police have not taken meaningful steps to stop or prevent this violence, to arrest the perpetrators, or to ensure the safety of all women in Bangalore and Karnataka.
In connections with cases reported in Bangalore City, a group of concerned citizens met with Mr. Shankar Bidari, Commisiioner of Police, Bangalore City, on 2th March 2009. We are deeply disappointed with his statement that these incidents do not in anyway indicate that Bangalore is not safe for women. He was dismissive of our concerns and also alleged that women who had lodged FIRs had not provided any proper information to aid in the investigation. We have no other option but to believe that Mr. Bidari is not in a position to ensure that women in Bangalore can walk the streets without fear of assault and molestation. He further went on record to state that the case reported in Indiranagar was one of hit and run and that it was the woman-complainant’s actions that caused the attack on her. This indicates that he is escaping from his responsibility of safeguarding the freedom and dignity of women. Such statements are not at all becoming of an officer who holds such a responsible position in the city.
The stated opinion of the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore city, is that these are but stray incidents and that few FIR's have been filed. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that this viewpoint is itself part of the problem.
Crimes against women cannot be measured merely by the number of FIR's are registered, a fact that the police should realize. We expect the police to acknowledge the reality of violence against women and work in a spirit of co-operation with civil society groups to ensure that more women do indeed begin to file FIR's. We are deeply distressed and angry that the Commissioner of Bangalore Police instead of starting from this premise has reacted defensively and, dare we say, in the best traditions of male chauvinism by questioning the veracity of the complaint and casting aspersions on the motivations of the few brave women who have filed a complaint. In fact, the Indiranagar Police Station have refused to lodge and FIR and instead issued an acknowledgment to the complainant stating that complaint is false.
Our concern is that the police must enable and encourage women to file complaints rather than impede them from filing FIR's. The kind of investigation which the police are carrying out even in the two cases in which FIRs have been finally lodged has been very insensitive to the women concerned. After each aggressive session with the police they come away with the feeling that they are not victims but wrongdoers. If such is the attitude of the police it is not surprising that women do not file complaints. This police attitude needs to change and we need to see change from the very top of Bangalore's police hierarchy.
We approach you in the spirit, that we must start from the premise that we have a problem and then work towards redressing the same. We are confident that you share our concern about the safety of women on the streets of Bangalore .
These attacks are crimes against women. They are legal offences. They are neither isolated events nor trivial incidents of ‘eve-teasing’. They are part of a series of attacks inflicted on women in the name of ‘morality’ and religious intolerance, attacks that are escalating as women resist and fight back. We must bring to your attention that in all the incidents women have been targeted for what they have been wearing, the fact that they were on the road late at night or that they should not have been in a particular location. The motivation behind the attacks is to compel women to subscribe to a narrow definition of culture and modesty. Moral and cultural policing of this nature is undertaken to restrict the freedom of women to live full and meaningful lives. It is unfortunate that police officers in police station are also reflecting the same mindset when women are trying to lodge cases.
It is the core responsibility of the state and city police to ensure that public spaces are kept safe for all. Women across class barriers – from powrakarmikas to garment factory workers to students and young professionals in the corporate sector – have today become vulnerable targets on the streets of Karnataka.
We are also hereby expressing full faith in the Karnataka State Police and are confident that the perpetrators of these crimes will be brought to justice. We would like to emphasize that these attacks on women by the so called torchbearers of ‘Indian Culture’ are a direct attack not only on the women but also an attack on the humanity, dignity & compassion of the people who live in this state.
We urge you do take the issue of safety and dignity of women in public places as of being one of highest priority. Towards this it would be deeply appreciated if you ensure the following:
- Issue a public statement that
- crimes against women are indeed serious offences which are occurring in Karnataka and which the police will take seriously.
- women who file complaints will not be harassed and treated as 'accused' in the name of 'investigation'.
- encourage women to file complaints and promise prompt investigation.
- The cases that have been registered are investigated by the jurisdictional police immediately all across Karnataka
- With particular reference to Bangalore- given that two of the incidents that have been reported are near the Mt. Carmel College for Women, High Grounds Police Station is directed to take adequate measures to ensure the safety of women in this area.
- All police stations Karnataka are sent a notice stating that such incidents of violence against women have been on the rise, directing the police to register and lodge FIRs if women are coming forth with complaints without any delay.
- Karnataka police in collaboration with other civil society organizations undertakes a wide spread public campaign informing citizens of their duty to act when they witness such incidents. As well as publicize emergency numbers that can be contacted.
- To use the hoardings of the Police Department to publicize the fact that so called 'eve teasing' is a serious form of sexual harassment ie. a crime punishable by law and that the police will not hesitate to take stern action in this regard.
- A 24- hour help line is set up specifically for women in distress.
- A list of Police Stations & Hospital numbers in all areas in city editions of newspapers across Karnataka.
- To educate the public on how to file an F.I.R and that it is their right to do so.
- A list of the number of Hoysalas patrolling per jurisdiction & the frequency of such patrols.
Sir, it cannot be stressed enough that Karnataka must be a place where women are not in fear of being harassed and attacked in public places. These attacks on women not only cause fear and panic among women. They also the tarnish the reputation of the state of Karnataka as a place in which women can enjoy their freedom.
We are anxious that you act strongly and decisively so that these attacks on women are brought to a stop immediately.
We will be happy to collaborate with you in any manner towards ensuring a safer place for the women in Karnataka.
Take Back The Night-
Zainab Bawa reports at citizen matters
(report coming up)
For now here are some photos.
For those on facebook- there are more photos
I never ask for it
@ Ulsoor 6 pm- 8 00 pm- public interactions addressing bystanders of street sexual harassment.
A report is coming up. Photos for now:
poster made by Shilo Shiv Suleman
poster made by Kritika Soni
Fearless Karnataka/Nirbhaya Karnataka presents a series of interventions and events marking Intl. Women's Day
We are Taking Back The Night because we want to feel safe in our city. We are taking back the night because for too long our relationship with our city has been fear based. We Take Back the Night with you.
Take Back The Night invites individuals, organisations, collectives, groups all to reclaim their city streets at night.
In Bangalore: Events for the 8th of March
Join us to intervene in the neighbourhoods where recent attacks on women took place. Pick a neighbourhood and call the coordinator for location details. Volunteers will hand out testimonials; engage with the public in discussion examining how we can act against violence (bystander ‘polls’ have been made and printed already to trigger discussion); drive people to the street theatre performances by Maraa in the Indiranagar, Ulsoor locations.
TIME: 6.p.m. to 8 p.m.
LOCATION ONE: Vasanthnagar at the junction of Millers Road and 1st main Road, Vasanthnagar.
CO-ORDINATORS: Madhumita 9986067231 email@example.com
Ratna 9886863343 firstname.lastname@example.org
LOCATION TWO: Cunningham Road opposite Sigma Mall.
CO-ORDINATOR: Aarthi 9741496259 email@example.com
LOCATION THREE: CMH Road, Coffee Day junction opposite Kartik chaat house
CO-ORDINATORS: Ekta 9880755875 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hemangini 9008644245 email@example.com
LOCATION FOUR: Ulsoor near police station
CO-ORDINATOR: Jasmeen 9886840612 firstname.lastname@example.org
LOCATION FIVE: Rest House Road, near Pecos, off Brigade Road
CO-ORDINATOR: Zainab Bawa 9945473641 email@example.com
TIME 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Take Back The Night – a celebration of the night, an affirmation of our right to move freely without threat and fear of violence. With performances, video projections, music and movement at:
Do you really think you ask for it?
Recent attacks against women in Bangalore and Mangalore have targetted them for the clothes they wore, the kind of lifestyle they seemed to espouse and the very fact that they were out as independent women on the streets at night. But women do not 'ask for it' by what they wear, who they are seen with and where they choose to be. Street sexual violence, harassment or 'eve teasing' is not restricted to one kind of woman either. Women across stratas of society, age groups have experienced it. On International Women's Day, March 8, Blank Noise launches our Clothes Project. We invite you to donate a garment that you were wearing when violated/harassed on the streets. Join us in building a clothes exhibit that will defy the notion that you 'ask for it'. Bring your garment to Banappa park on March 8, 2009, Bangalore.
You could organize a Take Back The Night in your city- Blank Noise Delhi, Calcutta, Pink Chaddi Calcutta+ Hyderabad are working towards it. Let us know! Be an Action Hero!
photo source- the Hindu. read article here
slowed down, socked her on her jaw and fled away.
24 Feb, Lakshmi was attacked at around 9 pm by four men who
punched her, hit her, and abused her for wearing jeans.
17 Feb, two men chased Geetanjali’s car at 1.30 pm. One chased
her with a large stone as she ran to a friend’s house for refuge.
That week, Jasmine was attacked by four middle-aged men at 11.30 am
when her auto broke down. They physically assaulted and tried to
disrobe her while yelling obscenities.
Minutes of the Fearless Karnataka/ Nirbhaya Karnataka meeting with the Office of the Commissioner Police- by Aarti Mundkur.
On 2nd March at 3:00 PM a large number of people associated with the
fknk campaign gathered outside the Office of the Commissioner of Police
Bangalore City. They lined some part of Infantry road with posters on
Sec 354 IPC (outraging the modesty of women). There was significant
A memorandum was submitted by 10 members of the fknk campaign- I will
send another email with an attachment of the final representation given
to Mr. Shankar Bidari, Commissioner of Police, Bangalore. The following
is a brief summary of the conversation that we had with him.
1) Mr. Bidari categorically stated that 3 FIRs being lodged was not an
indication that violence against women is a persistant/ constant problem
in Bangalore. He said that these were merely instances and that they
would be investigated fully. However, that the law and order situation
is very much under his control and women need not be in fear.
2) He also told us that Bangaloreans are cultured people and that it is
not possible that bystanders would not come to the aid of women, if they
were in situations of distress.
3) he would be happy to hold a seminar along with us as soon as the
upcoming elections are over.
4) Responding to the fact that women have gone to the police and that
cases were not registered- he said that this was not possible. 59
officers have been suspended for not registering cases. If in the
unlikely possibility that a case was not registered that women could
come and meet him on Monday/Wednesday/ Friday to lodge FIRs.
5) He also said that none of the complainants have provided vehicle
numbers- which seriously hampers the investigation. Especially when they
all had sufficient time to make a note of the two wheeler license plate
6) he said he would look into our suggestion of dedication a couple of
bill boards- like the ones announcing traffic violations- to carrying
messages about violence against women.
7) According to Mr. Bidari, the law on this point has been on the
statute book for centuries and all citizens are fully aware of these
provisions. However, he was appreciative of our efforts to raise public
ALSO SEE THIS- SHANKAR BIDARI'S INTERVIEW
Date: Saturday. March 7
Time: 3:30 pm-5 30 pm
Dr. Ajai Kumar Singh
DG & IGP
Karnataka State Police Headquarters
Time: 6 pm onwards- 5 localities.
9 pm. Majestic.
Event: TAKE BACK THE NIGHT( sign up now!)
Fearless Karnataka is a collective of organisations and individuals who have come together to address the issue of street sexual violence. This collective was formed last week after repeated reports of assaults on women .
Vivek Nityananda made this for the Fearless Karnataka campaign:
Fearless Karnataka has been formed after the recent attacks on women in Bangalore.
It comprises individuals , collectives and organisations.
We are organizing a campaign addresses public as mute spectators to street sexual violence.
We are also organizing a Take Back the Night on March 8th.
This is a call for Action Heroes. Everyone from everywhere is welcome.
For starters you can contribute by:
1. Confirming as Action Hero for Sunday. March 8. TAKE BACK THE NIGHT
2. You can volunteer towards making TBTN happen
3.making posters addressed to spectators in the public. People could add in questions addressed to spectators in the comments section here.