On any ordinary afternoon, in most cosmopolitan spaces, it is OK for men and women to go out for a drink and ‘chill out’. Most of us do not live life with the concept of ‘morale policing’ breathing down our back. However, in India, as liberal and free a woman is, there’s never a guarantee that she will be safe.Recently, some 3 weeks ago on India’ Republic Day, January 26, in Mangalore, South of Mumbai, a bunch of Hindu fundamentalists of the Ram Sena party attacked a group of young college girls who were just chilling out having some drinks at a local pub. The girls were harassed and completely scared off, without any warning… luckily, no one was killed, but I’m sure the emotional trauma level was high.
As a reaction to this event, on February 5th, the Pink Chaddi campaign was kicked off by a few people who posted up a Facebook group online called “Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women”. They decided on a sassy, bold move to send pink colored women’s panties to the Ram Sena party as a ‘Valentine's gift’. More than the actual physical action of couriering underwear to a political party office, it is the concept alone which is buzzing on the minds of everyone in India.
Check out this video of a pile of underwear’s and the ‘love letters’ to the Ram Sena party. This is just a sample of what the campaign is planning, so we will have to wait for Valentines day to find out what really happens in terms of action. They are planning to meet at Pubs on Valentine's day and have a toast (any liquid will do) on behalf of all Indian Women, and these meetings will be recorded and later a video will be made including all of this.
Videos and photographs of the Pink Chaddis are also being collected to be sent to the Ram Sena, as can be seen both on the Facebook group picture page.
On the Pink Chaddi Campaign official blog, it is said that:
We have heard that Mr. Muthalik has decided to send pink saris “with love” in response. We greatly appreciate this and hope he continues to choose similar, non-violent methods to get his point across, just as we have chosen to be non-violent and loving in response to the brutality of the attacks on lovers and women in Mangalore and other parts of Karnataka.
Nevertheless, women from all over India, especially in Bangalore, where the campaign began, are preparing to send their personalized ‘chaddis’, which are underpants, to the Ram Sena party leader, Mr. Muthalik, who has been the man in charge.
The irony is that in a ‘land of Kamasutra’, women all over India have to fight for their rights, for their security, for their freedom and sexuality. One woman, Ree Diwan, posts in the Facebook group an image of pink underpants with “India, the Land of the KamaSutra” overlaid on it, and Patricia Chandrashekar, comments:
can't believe this is happening in the land of KamaSutra. Send these guys on a trip to Khajuraho. Let them see for themselves. The erotic statues are not even wearing chuddies!
We'll have to wait and see how the avalanche of Valentine's Day panties is received by the Ram Sena.
This initiative of female empowerment is not the only one taking place in India right now. Following, on a less dramatic but also effective campaign, women who come from a completely different socio-economic background and region of India give testimony of women’s empowerment. Navsarjan NGO community media group, Apna Malak Maa, present this video proudly profiling a local Women's Village Council in a village in Gujarat, which has taken care of unprecedented development work and solved many of the issues of their village, some issues which had not been solved for more than 20 years, such as sewage draining into their pond and the problem with sand collecting in the river, which meant that water supply lines and wells ran dry.
Thumbnail image used is “The Heart that Sings” by caribbeanfreephoto