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SlutWalk… People know ‘slut’?

December 13, 2011

In the past few days, as a part of research for a story, I have been talking to various people about how effective SlutWalk is in India.

The responses I received have been quite stunning. The first thing I realised was that nobody really believed that SlutWalk would be effective in India. They believed in the cause, and knew what it stood for… but nobody really believed that the campaign would be worth more than yesterday’s newspaper.

Women’s abuse is not a social cause in India, it is a cultural one, one friend said.

“We are brought up where we read about female infanticide, honor killings, dowry killings and even the practice of dowry every single day. There is so little respect for women,” she said.

A lot of other disagreed. Some say that women do not dress vulgarly in India, so there is no question about abuse. As a woman, I disagree. But that’s a different point.

What does matter though that people continue to believe that the way you dress has something to do with abuse. Really? So a woman in a burqa does not get ragged ever? A woman in a sari – which is considered the most dignified of the Indian dressed – never gets whistled at?

The point of SlutWalk is that the victim is not responsible for the horrors inflicted on them. The victim could be gender-less. The point of SlutWalk is that a woman gets abused and what she wears and how she talks has nothing to do with it.

Ask any girl and she’ll tell you that she has been whistled at, or taken a different road to walk home, simply because she is a woman and there were guys standing at the end of the road passing dirty comments.

Sure, for every guy who saw a woman as an object, there is one who treats her with respect. But in India, that ratio is still slightly skewed.

And yes, for every woman who takes advantage of her femininity, there is one who would rather just be  invisible.

If SlutWalk is not able to get across this message to our very ‘educated’ set, what is the hope that we reach people who do not even understand that a woman has the right to say ‘no’?

A lot of the people I spoke to also protested saying that much of what I spoke about happened only in the rural areas, distancing themselves from the horror of it.

Illusion or denial?

Abuse happens across social classes, cultural boundaries, age and sex. That is fact.

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