India: Kolkata Joins the SlutWalk Movement

This post is part of our special coverage SlutWalks 2011/12.

On 24 May, 2012, Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, formally joined the global SlutWalk movement, with over a hundred young men and women marching for the cause in the sweltering heat of summer. The organizers explained the need for a SlutWalk in the city on their Facebook Page.

SlutWalk has become a global protest. Not only have we seen SlutWalks in London, Paris, Chicago, we have also seen SlutWalk in Delhi, Bhopal and Bangalore! Can we deny the fact that victims of sexual harassment and rapes are not taunted, judged and vilified in our own ‘City of Joy’? Are we perfectly at peace, sitting and complaining about the system and then going back to our own ways of life? This is why we thought of organizing a SlutWalk Kolkata.

Poster – SlutWalk Kolkata

On his blog Insight, blogger Khusnud wrote:

… it’s high time for Kolkatans to come out for “slutwalk” on 24th may. Although, my ordinary mind couldn’t understand the purpose and relevance of slutwalk in India but women safety and rights in India is always a ponderable question for me. Is skimpy clothes of gals or women articulate the message to rape her? If yes, then how will we justify the rape of 3 month’s infant? If some psycho says that provoking cloths stimulate him to rape or molest a girl then how will we react if someone says,” Her perfume was incredibly provoking that’s why I raped her“! The message is whatever cloths women wear, however slutty it is, it shouldn’t be thought as an invitation to rape her.

Sharib Ali, on the youth platform Pul-E-Jawan, described the event:

In Kolkata, around 300 women, mostly college students walked to demand the right to dress they want, without being labelled a slut or ‘khanki’ as the bengali word goes. They walked, cordoned by the police through crowded streets and amused onlookers. Probably the ‘Bhodrolok’ sentiment was a little hurt. But it was worthwhile I guess.

Images from SlutWalk Kolkata 2012

SlutWalk Kolkata 2012. Image taken from Facebook Group Page. Used with permission

Kaustav Sengupta at Ingene, pointed out that the SlutWalk Kolkata was not only about women but saw active participation from men, some of whom were themselves victims of sexual harassment.

The SlutWalk saw men marching alongside women. Said Somek, an aspiring actor, who took part in the event, “It is not about gender. It is about sending a message that please don't judge us by what we wear.”

SlutWalk Kolkata 2012

SlutWalk Kolkata 2012. Image taken from SlutWalk Kolkata Community Page. Used with permission.

The organizers too wanted the event to be inclusive and had posted on their Facebook Page:

we do not intend to cater to the male-female binary…..this movement is not only against attrocities towards women……it is an inclusive movement… constantly posting or debating about how ONLY women are being marginalised… are talking about nothing regarding equality but a MERE TRANSFER OF POWER…..we are not organizing this march with that in mind….we wish to bring to light about gender misrepresentation, slandering/harassing/molestation of anyone of any gender on the basis of one's looks, about marginalised sexualities and their stereotyping.

The rally was peaceful and well-managed. It was led from the front by students and teachers from Jadavpur University and saw activists, members of NGOs as well as members of the general public joining the rally that started from the Jadavpur University campus and made it's way down to Triangular Park where it ended with recitation of protest poetry and performance of street plays.

SlutWalk Kolkata. Screenshot from a video clip uploaded on Rediff iShare by Dipak

The original video can be found here.

Some on the comments on Twitter were as follows:

@suyashpiyush: ‘Slutwalk’ organized in Kolkata and people collectively came together to support freedom in dressing.

@UsamaKhilji: SlutWalk Kolkata: College students take to the streets against rape culture.

@potato_wingd: wish the #kolkata‬ episode of the #slutwalk‬ had more coverage.

Others tweeted about photos from the event:

Responsible Charity (@secularcharity): I posted 25 photos on Facebook in the album “SlutWalk Kolkata 2012″

You can see more photographs from SlutWalk Kolkata here.

This post is part of our special coverage SlutWalks 2011/12.


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