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She was being raped- in a street play. Stunned, the audience looked on, as the other actors — both men and women-asked them why no one steps forward as scores of women in the city are sexually assaulted every day.

The play was a part of India’s first Slut Walk, also called as ‘Besharmi Morcha’. Joined by hundreds of enthusiastic people, the walk drove home the point that sexual violence against women must be stopped and this was the society’s collective responsibility.

Slut Walks have become a global phenomenon to protest against sexual violence after a police officer in Toronto caused outrage by stating in a speech to university students that women should avoid “dressing like sluts” to avoid being victimised.

Unlike other Slut Walks, where women dress up in skimpy clothes to challenge the mindset of people who blame a victim for being assaulted, in Delhi, the mood was more toned down.”We did not want to unnecessarily dress up in something we are not comfortable in. In any case, no matter what a girl wears, salwar kameez or jeans, she is teased or assaulted,” said Archie Sharma, a Delhi University (DU) student who participated in the walk.

“So the point we are trying to make here is that just let us be. How does it matter what I wear or how I walk or how I talk? It gives no one a right to pass nasty comments or worse, sexually assault me,” she added.

A massive poster was also put up where the participants wrote their messages after their short walk from Parliament Street to Jantar Mantar.A few wrote their messages on their arms and one even let her belly be a canvas, as another girl wrote out her message.

Others held placards with messages like “My short skirt has nothing to do with you!”, “The way a woman dresses is not an invitation to sexual assault”, “It’s not about being a slut or not, it’s about being human!”.

Jennifer Samson, a tourist from Britain who came for the walk after getting to know about it from social networking site Facebook, said: “It’s a brilliant initiative and it’s good to see so many youngsters, both guys and girls, take part. Sexual violence cannot be tolerated at any level.”

With Delhi Police personnel standing by, the street play turned out to be the most powerful medium through which the participants drove their message across and attracted the loudest cheers.

Dressed in black kurtas and jeans, the actors posed many questions to the audience — why is that the Delhi Police chief mentions that girls should not venture out after 2 a.m.? when women are assaulted day and night? How is that men and women can mutely watch a girl being harassed when the victim could be one of their family members tomorrow?

“I hope that people who have come for the walk don’t forget about the larger point that we are making here, that against sexual violence, after they go back home,” said Umang Sabharwal, the young DU student who spearheaded the walk.

“We hope to come back next year,” added another organiser.


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