26th January. Republic Day. Make it yours. Ours.

symbol designed by Peter Griffin

Dear Citizens/ Action Heroes in Kolkata + Delhi

You are invited to Republic Day meet at Allen Park (Park Street/ Camac Street cross)
You are encouraged to examine, interpret, accept, claim, assert the notion of citizenship

We will be doing the following:
1. interpreting the Justice Verma report
2. discussing the notion of citizenship for women
3. creating #SafeCityPledge placards on learning to be a citizen.

To being autonomous women. To making Republic Day our own
Bring a fellow citizen along. Male/ Female/ Differently Gendered.
Time : 3 - 5 pm


In Delhi  the "Freedom Parade

Time 2 - 5 :30 pm

Mandi House to Jantar Mantar


In solidarity.


The Verma Committee: Alchemizing anger to hope : Arvind Narrain

cross blogging from Kafila
Written by Arvind Narrain
Arvind Narrain has an op ed in today’s Hindu about the Justice Verma Committee. This is a longer version of the article
The public discourse post the brutal rape of Nirbhaya has witnessed a persistent degrading of the public discourse.  Having been subjected to crudely offensive remarks by members of the political establishment, right from belittling a serious movement for equality as led by  ‘painted and dented ladies’ to ostensibly sympathetic responses which belittle women who have suffered a serious violation of their bodily integrity as nothing  more than ‘zinda laash’, we finally have a document authored by a Committee set up by the state which honours Nirbhaya.
The Verma Committee Report most fundamentally alters the public discourse on crimes against women by placing these crimes within the framework of the Indian Constitution and treating these offences as nothing less than an egregious violation of the right to live with dignity of all women. What is particularly moving and inspiring about the Report is that it does so by placing the autonomy and indeed the sexual autonomy of women at the very centre of its discourse.
It also offers us a rethinking of what is meant by the offence of rape. In the Committee’s thinking rape is a form of sexual assault like any other crime against the human body in the IPC. According to the Committee it is  ‘the duty of the state as well as civil society to deconstruct the paradigm of shame-honour in connection with a rape victim.’

According to the Committee, it is very important that Indian society and the state move away from thinking of rape as a crime against honour and instead look at it as a serious violation of bodily integrity. In language which is seen perhaps for the first time in an official report, the Committee quotes a rape survivor. ‘Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women………I reject the notion that my virtue is located in my vagina, just as I reject the notion that men’s  brains are in their genitals’.

The discussion on rape is located in an understanding of women as full and equal citizens  and it is intrinsic to the argument of the Report that it is only by guaranteeing women full and equal rights that sexual violence can even be tackled. It is in this context that the  Committee discusses the phenomenon of honour killing and concludes that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that ‘choices made by men and women in respect of marriage’ will not be interfered with by institutions such as khap panchayats.

Where the uncompromising respect for autonomy and personhood is perhaps best exemplified is in the Committee’s discussion on marital rape. Breaching the sacred inner precinct of patriarchy which is the marital relationship, the Committee for the first time in the history of Indian law, recognizes that the married woman is an autonomous individual with full power to refuse sexual intercourse with her ‘lawfully wedded husband’. There is nothing in the nature of the relationship, which entitles the husband to sexual access to his wife at his whim and fancy. The Committee, based on an understanding of equality in the Indian Constitution comprehensively rebuts  Sir Matthew Hale’s outdated  declaration in 1736 that the ‘husband cannot be guilty of rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife’.

While the Committee breaches the inner wall of patriarchy, it is also  equally successful in breaching the public patriarchy of the state as a raping machine. For far too long, the Indian Armed Forces have enjoyed complete impunity for crimes of sexual violence committed against women in situations of armed conflict. The women in Chattisgarh, Kashmir as well as the North East have borne mute witness with their bodies to unspeakable acts of sexual violence. For the first time in history, the Committee has recognized that sexual violence against women committed by members of the armed forces must come within the purview of ordinary criminal law. It recommends a ‘review of AFSPA and AFSPA like legal protocols as soon as possible’.  The requirement of sanction for prosecuting these offences committed by uniformed personal has been done away with.

The Committee also introduces the notion of ‘command responsibility’ whereby a public servant in command, control  or supervision of the armed forces or police would be held responsible for failure to exercise control over the actions of his subordinates resulting in rape or sexual assault. Here again the Committee breaches the code of impunity of the Indian state for sexual offences committed by its personnel.

The Committee has shown a sense of occasion by  recognizing  that a historic  moment such as this must be transformative for all. As such, it expressly suggests that the definition of those who could be affected by sexual assault should include both men as well as homosexual and transgender persons. It thus recommends that the law expressly protect  all  persons from  rape and sexual assault.

The jet of anger which emerged through the brutal rape of Nirbhaya has through the work of the Committee been transmuted into an ever widening circle of empathy which includes children in juvenile facilities, trafficked women and children,  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons, domestic workers, women in situations of armed conflict as well as women in violent marital relationships. The Committee through making recommendations for all these vulnerable groups has seized the moment and articulated the patriarchal  ills of the  Indian state and society.

The fact that the Report is based upon a historic articulation of hurt and harm suffered by Indian women emerges most poignantly through the articulation of the offence of rape which results in a persistent vegetative state for which the punishment is rigorous imprisonment of a minimum of twenty years going up to life. This recognition of an aggravated form of sexual assault is a tribute to Aruna Shanbaug who was brutally raped and choked with a dog chain and is living since the  last thirty six years in a persistent vegetative state.

The Committee has performed a fine balancing act of  being sensitive to public opinion without allowing mere public sentiment to emerge as  the arbiter of policy and law. In doing so, it resists the tendency of basing its recommendations on shifting notions of right and wrong and instead derives its recommendations from constitutional values.

It is keeping in mind constitutional morality,  that the Committee has refused to yield to the public clamor for the death penalty for those accused of the brutal rape. It has also firmly reiterated that both chemical and surgical castration are ‘cruel and unusual’ punishments which are not in conformity with the Indian Constitution and hence to be rejected.  The growing clamour for the lowering of the age of the juvenile from eighteen to sixteen has also been rejected by the Committee citing the fact that as far as the juvenile is concerned, it is the responsibility of the state to invest in processes which can aid the reformation of the juvenile.

The Committee has done an incredible job of transmuting pain and anger into an inspirational roadmap for the future. It is now up to civil society to ensure that the radical recommendations of the Committee are converted into  reality.

Everything I Want To Say To You

I pledge to speak out. #SafeCityPledge
Everything I want to say to you: message to the harasser. molester. stalker. rapist. violator.

You can write anything you want to say.
Use this space to vent. to express. To give closure and or to start a conversation
Because maybe things were left unsaid.


Safe City Pledge #Kolkata

Your attention please.
Taken the #SafeCityPledge yet?

Keep sending them in.

Tweet your pledge. add #SafeCityPledge / Make it your fb profile photo 
Email in - blurtblanknoise at gmail

Think. Pledge. Act. 


24 hour Tweetathon #SafeCityPledge

24 hour Tweetathon
January 19
#rape #safecities #sexualviolence #citizen

Each citizen affects change. You are invited to participate to a 24 hour twitter event that pushes an urgent 360 degree approach to building safe cities.

  • be self critical 
  • be optimistic 
  • be hopeful 
  • try avoiding blame game because it often only goes in circles 
  • examine your area of expertise and how you can pledge change within that. example- if you're a journalist- how can you pledge change that affects the way you report sexual violence. or if you're a gynaecologist- can you be self critical of the system you are part of and pledge change? or if you're an architect or an urban planner or a politician or a movie maker. think of how you can affect change. make your pledge.#SafeCityPledge 
  • Dream an ideal city. Be imaginative. Ask 'what if' ? 
  • Believe you can affect change. 

Here's how you can get involved before Jan 19
1. Tweet this
2. Take a pic of yourself with your SafeCityPledge . If you dont tweet- you can email in the pic to blurtblanknoise at gmail
3. email in with ideas and suggestions

Event on FB


Against Castration

to read the entire article visit Kafila
The most recent demands for castration can broadly be divided into two categories: popular and legal. Here we wish to problematize both, the legal and popular demands for castration by drawing out the reductive understanding of rape implicit in this demand; and by tracing the problematic notion of emasculation-as-justice driving this demand. We call for a suspension of the demand for castration on three broad grounds, listed here and discussed in greater detail below:
-          The logic of castration as legal punishment locates the threat of rape squarely in the male body (specifically male genitalia), reinforcing the heteronormative paradigm of peno-vaginal penetration that feminists have been trying for decades to dislodge from Indian rape law.
-          Such a punishment obscures the role of institutions in enabling and preserving rape. It also delinks sexual assault from structures of caste, class, sexuality and disability, which shape sexual violence.
-          The popular demand for castration relies on a logic of emasculation (napunsak banana) that actually re-centers “good,” protectionist masculinity as the way to creating a safer environment in our communities.


Safe City Pledge . 4 30 pm . Jan 1

Kolkata Safe City Pledge
Shantiniketan Safe City Pledge

Hyderabad Safe City Pledge photo credit Action HerSharada 

 Safe City Pledge Goa . Action Hero Shivangini Tandon

Delhi Safe City Pledge. photo credit Anubhav Pradhan

                                             Action Heroes #SafeCityPledge Mumbai. photo credit Elise 


Action Heroes #SafeCityPledge Bangalore photo- Apurva Mathad

Action Heroes #SafeCityPledge Chandigarh with Rubina Singh also Hollaback Chandigarh

#SafeCityPledge Lucknow with Jyotsna Kaur

Pune Safe City Pledge with Devika Shetty and Open Space

#SafeCityPledge with Trishima Mitra Kahn Australia

Shantiniketan Safe City Pledge with Arpeeta Ghosh +

Organized supported by citizens we call Action Heroes, organizations, collectives. Taking collective ownership of the issue. Safe City Pledge.
Chennai #SafeCityPledge with Aparna Singh
Goa #SafeCityPledge
Goa #SafeCityPledge

Pledge Bank from various Action Heroes

Edited and added by Annie Zaidi and Pallavi Sen

Imagine an ideal city. 
Please dream with urgency.
Pledge to make it real
Pledge it

I pledge to stay outraged. to not forget a few months later. to follow this through #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to be visible in my city #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to walk alone #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to walk slow #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to laugh out loud on the streets. Unlearn warning. My city. 

I pledge to be an Action Hero #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not be a mute bystander. To intervene. To change the scene. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to look straight in the eyes of a person who thinks staring at me is his/her right. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to stare back #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to NEVER give my daughter a malnourished oversexed Barbie, and NEVER to give my son a gun to play with. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not give my children sexist toys #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not play out old stereotypes of the Indian Woman being coy. When I say NO, it means NO. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to break stereotypes of the “coy” Indian woman #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to argue with any man or woman who thinks street harassment is a casual joke. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not argue against sexual harassment jokes #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to fight for my space - to walk freely under the sun and the stars and not be afraid. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to believe in my space in my city. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to reclaim my space in public places #SafeCityPledge

I pledge never to cheer a movie where the hero has to sexually harass the heroine to get her consent. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to NEVER call a rape survivor a “living corpse”: they are LIVING, BREATHING people with a FUTURE! #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to never call a rape survivor a living corpse #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to walk short distances for my errands and not hop into to the rickshaw or cab. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to use public transport #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not look down or pretend to be busy while standing alone in a public place. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not pretend to look busy when alone in a public place #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to talk openly about sexual harassment and not be ashamed and afraid of judgment.  #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to talk openly about sexual harassment #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not be afraid of being judged #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to loiter in public spaces and take up outdoor sports like running, jogging, beach volleyball or walking. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to take up outdoor sports #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to jog on my city’s streets #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to keep taking the regular bus and demanding more fleets that are not as expensive as the ac Volvos. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to get proper street lights near Bannerghatta Road. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to fight for adequate lights on my city’s streets #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to do what I have to do, when I have to, with whom I have to. I pledge to turn my anger into constructive action. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to turn my anger into constructive action #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to not listen when someone asks me to 'face reality'. I'll slap it. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to counsel parents . Starting with mine. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge not to blame a rape survivor. No matter who/where/what she is. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge never to blame a rape survivor #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to never blame myself. For whatever I may have faced, no matter how "painted", "dented" or "sundari" I was. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to be dented, painted and never blame myself for “asking for it” #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to refuse to fill up any kind of application(other) form that asks you for your father/husband's name. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to walk alone #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to keep my head held high in public #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to speak up against harassment #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to reclaim my city #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to fight for my safety #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to make my city safer through small actions #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to go towards whatever interests me as I walk through my city #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to be seen so my city can get used to me and my freedom #SafeCityPledge

In our family, I pledge to change how we sit for dinner. No father or brother is automatically our leader and head. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to never instill shame in children, regarding their genitalia. It's not CHHEE. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to take offense and I pledge to interfere. I will not 'chill' or 'relax' #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to speak about both my families and not just my father's, when asked where I am from. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to walk in a manner that I like, not afraid of what anyone will say #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to question, whatever the consequence #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to stop using my father or husband's name in my name. Especially when that is not my name.

I pledge that in my own intimate relationships, I will always be vocal about what hurts, what is too much and when to stop.  #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to NEVER do something because that is what a woman does. I am my own precedent. I create my expectations. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to stand by my own standards for myself and not 'how it IS'. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to sit anywhere and not just where I see women. I can ask for my share of space from anyone.

I pledge to never stay silent when I know what is being said is wrong and hurts the freedom of women. In my family and outside. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to disagree and voice it even if the sexist remark is from a grandparent or elderly. No one is too old to understand. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to explain my vagina and explain the pain, when someone dares to suggest that perhaps while relaxing as I am raped, I could come out of it alive.  #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to talk openly about my body- breast. butt. vagina. no shame. my body. safe city pledge #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to look men in the eye #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to never pass comments on people's bodies and object when others do. Moti, gori, kaali are not people. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to talk to my boyfriend about how he looks at women.  #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to always interfere when I see that someone is feeling threatened. #SafeCityPledge

I pledge to have a conversation (if I can) with any man who harasses me and ask if why he said that.