Is SlutWalk the answer?

Let's begin the discussion from here, you can get from the screenshot above that Anbika Giri slapped back a middle-aged man today who was trying to touch her during her ride in public transportation around the Kathmandu city. Well, I must say here that not every woman have that courage to give it back to such jerks right away like her. Most of the times, victims feel awkward to complain about it and remain as a silent sufferer. This incident clicked me about a movement named 'SlutWalk' that happened quite a while ago in Kathmandu where group of females (including males holding the banner) demonstrated against the sexual harassment or molestation that happen to women in their daily life.



The first thing that came to my mind when I heard the word ‘SlutWalk’ was – ‘why did they choose such male defined term ‘slut’ to show their retaliation against the sexual harassment or molestation by men? Isn’t it too heavy? Disturbing?’

The slut walk is the movement that begun when a Toronto Police Officer stated that women should avoid dressing like sluts to remain safe. As a response to what he said, moreover, to the general idea of blaming women’s attire for explaining and excusing rape, a protest march was organized on 3rd April, 2011 in Canada where mainly young women participated wearing provocative dresses.

With the similar concept, ‘SlutWalk Team Nepal’ had organized a walk ‘Walk for Respect’ last month, as a campaign against eve teasing and sexual harassment in public spaces. The dress code was modified by the organizers considering the fact that it might be outrageous in a society like ours to walk in skimpy clothes. Now, I am not trying to find fault in every new initiatives but I feel these kind of approaches miss out a point somewhere.

First let me clear myself that I am not against women’s fundamental rights of choice and safety. No, women do not have to seek permission of men about what she should be wearing. Nevertheless, one needs to be sensible while choosing the attire. Sexual harassment and molestation doesn’t happen only with the ones who wear provocative clothes, I agree. If a man has a dirty mind, women’s dress can hardly stop it. Not every man is like that but there isn’t scarce of such types either. Now, there is total freedom to wear what you feel like but yes, if you dress to be noticed, then you do not have a choice of filtering out the aforementioned types. It is not necessary that you will only attract the good ones. There are consequences to every choice you make. The chances that you might be dragging the attention of the wrong ones will make you vulnerable to be an easy target being as a victim.

I am emphasizing on dressing up sensibly because I believe provocative dresses act like a catalyst to commit crime. Please do not mistake this for advocacy towards the conservative side but the society we live in isn’t completely liberal yet. And breaking the stereotype isn’t as easy as it sounds while giving progressive speeches and intelligent lectures. We can object in the name of personal freedom and choices, but it definitely has some limitations that our society creates. I am not completely in the side of choosing what society wants us to choose, but we cannot totally reject the presence of society if we are living in it.

It would be a lie if one says there’s no correlation between the provocative clothes and the arousal of sexual urges in men, sheer lie. Sounds little nasty but that’s what the truth is. We can not control the perception of people and we can not force them to think in a particular way. What we can do is – be preventive and be practical. There’s no need to cover yourself from head to toe but you can at least dress yourself according to the social limitations and circumstances to be on the safer side. While walking on the road, its not necessary that you may encounter intelligent and good-faith people only, when you face the other side, there comes the matter of harassment and abuses.

Our law is strong enough to prevent women from these physical and mental tortures as there is the provision of punishment for sexual assaults and rape attempts. It's not necessarily important to blow nasty slogans about the society and males, what is actually needed is we have to make people aware about these things: freedom of choice, legal provisions and importance of immediate protest.

And finally reiterating once again that sexual harassment and molestations of women in every form is a serious crime and that the offender should be given harshest punishment possible, I urge to all those who only think ‘men are to be blamed for everything’ that protest is necessary but first be sure what you are actually asking for addresses the problem in real sense. I am not totally against the theme of that program and this issue evoked recently, but the way we are dragging the issue to the surface is not being staged on the direction it should be. I am not an expert for these issues, but I think we should rise above being a copycat and do something that actually helps to stop these uncivilized violations for just "being a woman", but in real sense. The best way to protest any kinda violation is to answer back right away just the way Anbika Giri did.

Jawknock deserves my heartiest thanks for assembling these comment and giving me invaluable suggestions to complete this write up. We had asked people from diverse fields about their views on the issue. This is what they have to say about that movement and it's relevance!

Scriptwriter/Director at BBC Media Action
We have double standard kind of people in our society. We talk, we vomit, we rant but we don’t take action. We have done lots of rallies; I think we have also talked enough now its time to realize that we must take action against sexual harassment in public places. And I strongly believe in action, helping myself and helping other if I see anyone being harassed. With slogan printed t-shirt, goggles, banner, and making some noise is not going to work. When I saw the slut walk picture on website, I wondered how many of these people have ever taken action to protect their body. Or Do they really know that you cant get in Nepal Yatayat at pick hour?

Program Coordinator, Master in Security & Conflict Management ,
As they say ‘beauty lies in the eyes of beholder’ – whatever your appearance is- that should not matter for bullying, but you can’t reject the fact that most cases of misbehave happens because of your dress up (police says) ..Since it is the matter of attitude, its really a hard job to teach somebody saying ‘don’t stare me, don’t think me in that way’…..But, program like slut-walk might create awareness, on the other hand they should protect themselves wearing ‘acceptable’( who is going to define what is acceptable!) dress-ups….Moreover, it would be better to organize awareness program based on our own context using Nepali words….rather than merely copying others.

Student of Sociology in masters level and a learning journalist
Indeed every person have their own rights but the girls / women in our society face some problems while dressing up as they wish, walking the way they like. The girls are teased, sexually beleaguered in different time period in different places. It’s not easy for a girl to travel in public transportations easily. No matter how old the people are they try to misbehave. In the crowd of people too they are sexually harassed. Most of the girls do not open up but we never know they are they might have been harassed in their work stations too.  Personally I think, the rallies and campaigns can only help create awareness among the people. But to curb such activities one should herself be strong enough to face such problem.  She shouldn’t be quiet; if any people misbehave her in any place she should be taking instant action so that he / they do think before repeating such activity.

Producer and Program presenter at TV Filmy
I think the movement is really one of the nice initiations because it helps one to be oneself, I am saying so, if slutwalking stays away frm vulgarism and copycat stuffs.I am in its favor keeping its account of themselves wearing ‘acceptable
and most importantly this part and whatever your appearance is- that should not matter for bullying.





Sydney, Australia
In Nepal as well as in any other male dominated countries in the world, getting harassed on the street by men is very common and is not considered unusual or a crime by the society itself. Mostly it is the girls who are considered to be vulgar and provocative for that act on the basis of the dress she chooses to wear. So are the men supposed to decide what women should wear? I have also had such experiences, while walking on the road, or travelling in buses or even at workplace. Whether it is a DHO harassing a nurse, touching her cheeks or making dirty comments or officers breaking obscene non-veg jokes even in formal programs in front of female participants, fighting back has been absurd or meaningless for women. In this pretext ‘Slutwalk’ has been a historical movement which has helped to raise awareness against sexual harassment.

A poet turned writer, Blogger
Everybody has right to decide what should they wear. Being a human it's obvious you'll get attracted to your opposite sex. There are nicer and gentlemen way to express your attraction. Dressing isn't the cause for sexual harassment. If that was the case then there should be no such cases in Muslim countries where women cover themselves from top to bottom. It's a big myth that women can protect themselves against sexual assault and rape by dressing modestly.



well..this kind of walk is new for country like ours. And firstly, I have reservations on the topic itself. Slutwalk seems derogatory n discriminatory in itself. U know media projects and make these issues such but for me it's good to have such kind of rallies. Nevertheless they were very few and the way they did was not appropriate, but our society, in fact all societies, will see that with different eye, no matter how open the society is. While this country is still a very primitive in terms of fashion and such dresses except few cities like kathmandu, Pokhara and Dharan. As far as decency is maintained...I don see a very big problems but there is other side of the coin as well... there are hard feminist groups, female rights activists, who see everything with their own lenses, and for them it's harassment..abuse.. for them, a boy cant even stare at a girl for 2 seconds, that becomes abuse. A bit odd, but its their point of view! :)

Blogger and AIT student
First, events like this are campaign for good deeds, for rights, for respect. However, continuity and respect the campaign itself matters a lot. Second, if this campaign was for reducing reducing public harrassment, molestation, abuse or whatever form of disrepect, it should have been easily graspable to the general public who had to be informed. But it looks like, the campaign was done with those "sukilas" for "wise expenditure" of the fund.

They could go more effectively, and penetrate the people who need to know. Don't show off the "respect others" playcard with the one, whom you don't respect.

Nurse, Student
Virginia, USA
talking about slut walk or "walk for respect",they raise mainly issues about dresses and sexual harassment because of dresses. Somehow it's true that most of case happened because of it but it doesn't mean women should stay away of choosing clothes that she wants according to weather n fashion. It's good.... They can wear it but, it may also be the cause of sexual harassment, so whatever the clothes we choose should choose not too be vulgar and too much revealing, I mean to say it should be according to the society she live in! But sexual harassment not only about the clothes, it could happen anywhere and in any kind,the main point is not just to show the media with sum english play card on the front, we should start from the places where actually harassment happen like public transportations. what should we do? Do not over load the passenger, so every one gets a sit, we can start on the working area, report if sexually somebody tries to touch to the office manager or anywhere. The main point is immediate reactions like Anbika has done should be started! :) 
 


Healthy debate is cordially welcome!! :)


13 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing about the walk suprina but there are various things that you got wrong. Firstly, it is walk for respect, the facebook name is slutwalk because we were inspired from it. The theme doesnt seem similar from any angle to me. Our theme is to address sexual harassment and eve teasing to all gender( priority to women of course as thats the utmost majority). Addressing in sense we are awaring people about the existing laws. This is our first objective. The second one is to internalize people by disseminating information about the consequences on victims. As these evil deeds are done in the name of fun, if people are aware of the consequences on victims, then it would definitely reduce to some extent. We also want to have an online platform to share stories of harassment and things like that so that people speak up about this and fighting againt it is legal. http://walk4respect.wordpress.com/

    Jai Nepal.

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  2. Deepshikha AdhikariMay 16, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Thank you so much for writing about the walk.
    But I do have some reservations to some of the comments(frm my sansar.com) that you have shared here.

    First of all, our main objective was to let people know about the existing laws against sexual harassment. We did not aim to make people know about sexual harassment, because it is so rampant in our country and women of every age has become victim of this evil act. So, we rather wanted/want to focus on the solution instead of the problem itself.

    Yes, we do agree that we could not include people from different walks of life, but the event was organized in just 3 week after we thought of starting a movement against sexual harassment and eve-teasing. And in such a short time frame we could only reach out to people who had access to internet, after all internet is the easiest means to aware people. Besides, all of us (organizers) are college goers, we could/ can not give our full time to the social cause, and due to this too, we could not let a lot people know about the event and to ask them to join us. This was surely a shortcoming from our side, but we did not have any other option either.

    The name of the walk is "Walk for Respect", but YES we were inspired by the international "Slutwalk Movement".
    Thank you.

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  3. Hi to all,
    Two of the organizers have already commented so I do not have much to write except a few points which I could not ignore-
    1. "Sensible" dressing? Who defined what is sensible and what is not? And the "limitations" put by the "society"...Hasn't our society put limitations on almost everything? Are we supposed to acquiesce to everything like we have been doing, even if it comes to the most personal of choices- like the length of our skirts!
    2.Are the mental and emotional effects of those on the receiving end of rape, molestation and even teasing inversely proportional to the amount of cash she has on her? Or even to the "sukila" clothes she wears? Rape is rape. Groping is groping. It DOES NOT matter how spotless her clothes are.
    3. And yes, staring for even two seconds is harassment if the girl does not feel comfortable being stared at. This is nothing to do with feminism, rather with common sense!

    The rest of the issues are already covered. Obliged to you for hearing me.
    Thanks and do reply please :)

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  4. hello there,
    I do agree on the issues that have been addressed in the article above but somewhere I felt the article has been written without having much ideas on what the "WALK FOR RESPECT" actually 'was' or 'is' I must say because the team is still working on the issue. To add on this- I am a law student in Banepa and i really liked the motive of the campaign "Walk for respect", being inspired by this I with some of my other friends are initiating public awaring programs here in Banepa aswell and we are already through an interactive program. And are intending for bigger programs making aware larger mass. So, this is how the walk which I too participated inspired me to come up with the idea to work on the topic 'Sexual harassment and eve teasing" in my place. So, I do appreciate the orrganizing team of the walk.

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  5. @ Prakrit and Deepsikha,
    Hi thanks for the attention, Noone here has any objections towards the walk for respect and awareness, the main point is the things started after Anbika Giri slapped back the guy who was trying to touch her. Being the editor of the blog, I have collected various comments from various persons representing different strata of life, you may watch them as well. The main focus is is there any better way to react to this terror of being sexually harassed or mole-stated? If yes we may forward them as well. I think u got my opinion from where the issue rose, as we have no intentions to deny ur good objectives towards the society. If you send ur picture and identification, I will include them in the blog as well.

    Thank you so much. Young people can change the world in real sense. And it feels nice when good people discuss the good things. Its obvious, better things will come out after that!

    Cheerz! :)

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  6. @ Nishant,
    Thanks buddy for the comments.
    But for your kind information I represent the same aggressively reactive generation towards the society, but everybody knows the truth, you me and all others who are reading this post. If you have any female members in the family, I can bet she is not as free as you are for anything outside the home. Society is dominant in everything, you reject it or deny it. This article came to concept when Anbika giri was harassed at a public vehicle, we were trying to search an answer of "what should be the reaction?" Then came this "walk for respect" movement and we dragged it because it was totally related to the same issue. Being a human rights worker for last seven years, I know the effects of rape and physical harassment very well enough. The thing we focus are we in the safer side to react as society we live in has a way of thinking, it definitely does, and it takes time to change those established stuffs.

    Thanks for the comment!! Nice to know young people worry beyond than gadget and tech stuffs! :)
    Cheerz!

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  7. Hi Pushpa,
    Namaste to Banepa.
    As I have mentioned above and you may get from the title as well, "Is Slutwalt an answer?", the motive we share from the article is never to disagree on the fact of opposing sexual harassment and eve teasing, not at all. We are trying to find out what will be more effective. You can see many people's view above, comments on "walk for respect", some even have praised it. That proves Our motive was not to deny the good things of the program. The only question is "is these things relevant enough?" "are there any better ways to react?" and others. Thanks a lot.

    Nice to know u are a law student and serious about these things, Very nice, I support your motive in every way possible, if you send the pictures and news, I will undoubtedly publish them as well!

    Have a very good day all. :)

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  8. Prakrit Nepal , Deepshikha Adhikari , pushpa palanchoke
    Hey guys, 

    I would like to add few things to what Jaw Knock said.

    I am not completely against the ‘Walk for Respect’ movement. But my point is how effective it was. I feel it is a very weak answer to sexual assaults and molestations. Why didn’t you focus on the places where these kinda harassment occur most? Like public transports.. When you were protesting in NewRoad, the tempowalas on the side had no idea what was going on. I would have been really happy if the organizers had come up as a pressure group actually doing something to stop the violation. Just parading wouldn’t help. Was there any obligation to organize the program in 3 weeks? You could have taken some more time and come up in a much much better way.

    And finally, this initiative of ‘walk for respect’ wasn’t for just a day, I am sure. The theme isn’t wrong. I wish you all come up more organized, more determined and more influential than ever in coming days. People like me would also to join you to end the eveteasing and the harassment in every possible ways.

    And thank you guys for your invaluable comments.. Thanks..!!

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  9. Nischala Arjal
    Heyy!! :)

    Thanks for the comment!!

    Okay.. ‘Sensible dressing’ let me define it this way. If men take off their shirt at office saying they’re feeling hot or jus walk down the road in an underwear saying they feel it comfortable that way or even much simpler example we mostly get to see in the public transport, conductors wearing really low waist pants showing crack of their bums. I would find these things nasty. Insensible. Decency in clothes applies for both men and women and so does the social limitations.

    Rape is never ever the consent of woman; it’s never ever her fault. I am not saying if one wears provocative clothes, she will be raped for sure and not at all if she wears decent clothes. And provocative dress doesn’t justify hideous crime like rape in any way. I’m just trying to say that directly or indirectly, provocative clothes do act like a catalyst to increase the crime rate. That’s it!!

    Without over reacting on any kind of a look as staring, staring for even two seconds is harassment if the girl does not feel comfortable being stared at. Agreed!! Good point!! So defy any kind of wrong look or wrong touch immediately. Help yourself and help others.. that’s the best way to deal with it.

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  10. Hi all,
    Elie Sherpa wrote this on one of the Facebook sharings! :-
    "Madhumakkhi Bella ‎1st of all,I admire Anbika Giri voicing out the truth of our society (and I won't be surprised if there are some disliking me for writing this very line...this very moment).

    Well,let me start by admitting my biological fact that my body fe...els very hot in summer and really cold in winter.Back home,when I use to wear harmless shorts/skirts or sleeveless (not overdoing beyond that),the fairness of my skin colour would attract disgusting oggling eyes in the street.Now that I am in a country where it is very hot and humid and everybody is walking around in light and skimpy clothing,nobody cares who is wearing what and how (unless there are some Lady Gaga followers around). On the contrary,I was the one who used to get alarmed in the beginning and it does not matter one bit how I feel or react because it is me who has been instilled with the limitation of modesty in our society.

    It so happens,according to our local English Newspaper here,there has been 2 simultaneous rape case out in the open recently and the Police have found out rapist case No.1 to be from Arab community and rapist case No.2 to be a group of Africans (Note that both the culprits are from stringent moral background).

    If dressing immodestly is provocative,why are there many women in our country from a decent background and wearing decent dresscode sexually exploited by our very own and also by the outsiders??

    I am sure you can differenciate between a prostitute who is openly inviting with the way she dresses up and... a woman who likes to dress according to her convienience and walk around minding her own business.In simple language,if YOU Think Clean...YOU see clean.In the end,it is all about how YOU Think...how YOU see."

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  11. And this is what i replied.

    Overwhelmed.. in a very positive way.. thanks for the comments!! :)

    The country u r living in right now is more liberal in dressing. The same dress you wear there will drag enough of the unnecessary attentions if you wear it here. My point is you need to dress according to the social limitations of the country you are in and moreover, accordingly to the circumstances you are in to be on the safer side. Jus the way you adapted to the society there, you cannot deny the culture here.
    Rape is never ever the consent of woman,its never ever her fault. I am not saying if one wears provocative clothes, she will be raped for sure and not at all if she wear decent clothes. And provocative dress doesn’t justify hideous crime like rape in any way. I’m just trying to say that directly or indirectly, provocative clothes does act like a catalyst to increase the crime rate. That’s it!!
    Decency in clothes not jus applies for women. Jus imagine, if men whips up their shirt at office saying they’re feeling hot or jus walk down the road in an underwear, won’t anybody complain? i would!! Freedom without responsibility is incomplete.. don’t you think? I think and see it this way! :)
    we can and we should change the perception of people.. i am 'for' it. its just tht there are better ways to retaliate violations other than slutwalk i felt. thanks once again.. :)

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  12. Thank you so much for the comments, but I would like to clarify few confusions here:

    1. Walk for Respect was just a start. I am not sure if mysansar.com has shared this or not, but at the end of the event we had announced about the projects that we would be doing in the up coming days. The projects are- "Whistle campaign" and "Poster Campaign".

    2. When we started this cause in facebook, almost 14oo people joined us in 3 days. So, the situation demanded some immediate action.And like I had stated earlier, all of us are college goers, and we had to organize the event according to our schedule as well.

    For further detail so visit us in facebook:
    ://www.facebook.com/groups/slutwalknepal/
    and if you have any queries, feel free to ask.
    Thank you.

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  13. Well, to add something. Walk for respect's main objective is to aware about the laws, thats it for the walk. we didn't plan to take immediate actions on culprits or sth like that. there are laws and the country will back you up if you stand against these evils. the culprits must be taken to book which definitely requires a lot help from the society. We just wanted to spread the word that there are laws against sexual harassment/eve teasing and culprits mut be taken to book which I bet majority don't know there is even a law. Upto my knowledge there has been only 1 case filed in the court regarding sexual harassment. Well, why? people just dont know there are laws, so we are just awaring people about the laws.
    hope you got the gist of our walk.
    Jai Nepal!

    http://walk4respect.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete

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