Soon after a mass molestation in Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve, a CCTV video showing two scooter-borne men assaulting and molesting a woman on in Bangalore’s Kammanahalli neighbourhood went viral, provoking outrage across India. Women began sharing messages of solidarity on social media and a movement that began in those posts coalesced into a nationwide march on Saturday evening.
From Mumbai and Delhi to Nagpur, Bhopal, Silchar and Thrissur, hundreds of women across 30 Indian cities marched as part of the “I Will Go Out” campaign to stake claim to equal right to public spaces. The marches were organised by a collective of individuals and women’s rights groups under the name “I Will Go Out”. The collective describes itself as “a nationwide gathering in solidarity against sexual harassment and misogyny, and to reclaim women’s right to safe public spaces”.
The mass protest had its roots in the Why Loiter campaign of 2014, which encouraged women to “loiter” in public spaces or enjoy them for no reason, other than to make them safer for other women. Ironically, on Saturday, the protesters in many cities were denied permission by the police to hold marches and eventually had to restrict themselves to one area.
Still, women turned up in large numbers, shouting slogans such as “Ab kehti hai har ek nari, Din bhi hamara raat bhi hamari” (Every woman voices the same chant, the day is ours, and so is the night) and holding placards that read “Take back the night, break the silence, end the violence”.
Here are some images and videos from the nationwide marches:
At many marches, the protesting women shared messages of solidarity and described their experiences in public spaces.
“I have every right to be safe,” said a protestor in the video, below recollecting instances of sexual assault. “Let’s remember Manorama, let’s remember those 16 victims and let’s remember any and everybody who’s never had the courage to come out, and talk about sexual harassment.”
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