Tomorrow - June 25 - Delhi will witness India's first-ever 'Slut Walk'.
It all started when in January this year, a Canadian police officer remarked that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.
Expectedly, the seemingly derogatory remarks led to a massive outcry with women taking to streets in what are now called 'Slut Walks'. The first Slut Walk took place in Toronto.
It would amuse you to know that the Delhi Slut Walk has a Hindi name too — Besharmi Morcha — which in transliteration would mean 'Shameless Walk'; in other words, Walk Without Shame.
Says Umang Sabarwal, a journalism student at Delhi University and the moving spirit behind the Delhi Slut Walk:
“You cannot justify violence by saying that the woman was not appropriately dressed... Indian women are conditioned to behave in a certain way so as to “protect themselves”, while men are hardly ever told how to behave. Why am I told not to wear skimpy clothes at night or make eye contact with strangers who stare at me? Every section of society is putting pressure on [the woman] to feel ashamed.”The fiesty young woman is right; Indian men, like men elsewhere, have double standards and are downright hypocrites. They would want 'other' women (read women outside one's family and friends) to be clad in skimpy clothes but not their own kind.
As for this Indian version of Slut Walk, I do not support it. I can not accuse Indian feminists of being original; yes, in this case too, they are aping the West. Nothing wrong with that, actually. However, I wonder if they have got their priorities right.
Writing in the Hindustan Times, Amrit Dhillon says,
"[L]et the Indian SlutWalkers dare claim there is anything remotely serious about their caper. In a country where 10 million babies have been killed in the womb because they were girls, where women are burnt for dowry, murdered in honour killings, face domestic violence so frequent it’s as common as a power cut, where Dalit women fear sexual humiliation by upper caste men and where young girls are forced into prostitution, who needs the right to dress like a slut? And while we are listing women’s sorrows, a recent global survey by TrustLaw found India to be the fourth most dangerous place in the world for women.
Such a misguided protest only serves to mock Indian women and the real issues they face. I doubt if the women who roll beedis all day long for Rs30 are going to shout ‘hurrah’ when they hear about the SlutWalk. Indian women are still denied so many fundamental rights that this preposterous event, performed by women who are aping the antics of white, educated, middle-class females in the West (who appear to be short of genuine problems in their lives), can only be a bagatelle.
"[...] SlutWalkers inhabit a fantasy world if they think they can be invulnerable to the force of culture, history and social conditioning — and the fact that most of us take three seconds to form an opinion of someone based on their appearance or accent.
"It’s odd that the women who will be participating in SlutWalk have not been out on the streets denouncing female foeticide or dowry deaths. No doubt they will get their regulation 15 minutes but if they believe that Indian women lie awake at night wishing they could dress like a strumpet without attracting a glance, they are delusional."I could have hardly put it better.