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Why Hundreds Of Women Are Meeting To Sleep At Public Parks

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the brutal gang rape and murder in Delhi—a tragic reminder that women are not safe in apparent safe spaces.

Adrija Bose | CNN-News18

Updated:December 13, 2017, 4:56 PM IST
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Why Hundreds Of Women Are Meeting To Sleep At Public Parks
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the brutal gang rape and murder in Delhi—a tragic reminder that women are not safe in apparent safe spaces.
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This weekend, if you chance upon a woman sleeping under a tree, don’t be surprised.

Across the world, women are lining up to occupy public parks just so that they can take a nap.

This is their way of telling the world that they don’t need to carry a pepper spray all the time, they are allowed to be safe despite being defenseless.

The initiative, ‘Meet To Sleep’, is the brainchild of Jasmeen Patheja, the founder of ‘Blank Noise’. “For too long we have been told to be careful. We are now changing the narrative,” Patheja told News18.

A volunteer-based project against street harassment of women, Blank Noise, have been organizing events where women meet in parks and simply sleep for a couple of hours on a bench or on the lawn.

This year is going to a little more special. This is the year of the #MeToo movement, this is the year when Merriam-Webster dictionary chose "feminism" as the word of 2017. This is the year when TIME magazine chose the “Silence Breakers” as its Person Of The Year. This is the year when Raya Sarkar’s list came out. This is the year when women finally decided to speak up. And, this year marks the fifth anniversary of the brutal gang rape and murder in Delhi—a tragic reminder that women are not safe in apparent safe spaces.



Patheja says that every time a woman is harassed she is told to be more careful, she is asked to be strong.

“The justifications just don’t end,” she said. “This is an invitation to reject all those warnings,” she added.

The Blank Noise founder said that women deserve to build a trust in the public. And, this is their way of helping women get rid of their fears.

Patheja, an artist, and activist had started Blank Noise in 2003 as part of her graduation project at the Bangalore-based Srishti School of Art Design and Technology. The idea was to mobilize citizen "action heroes" through its projects, events, and campaigns in shaping the discourse on street harassment in India.

In 2007, Patheja started an online project, asking women to send a wish list. “Several people responded, some of them said, “I wish I could dance slowly”, some said, “I wish I could hum in the public.” Patheja listed napping in a public place on her wish list. So she, along with a bunch of other “action heroes” went to a public park. While she tried napping, others did want they wished to do in public places—eat alone, read a book were a few of those dreams. “I would wake up at the slightest noise,” Patheja said recalling the first time she tried it. “We have been trained to reciprocate to threats like that,” she added.

“We always carry a fear, why should we do that? We need to feel safe in public places,” she said.

In 2014, the project almost became a movement. More women started joining in. Last year, 150 women across the world participated in the event.

This year, women have already registered from Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Goa and even San Francisco.

Those who want to participate can land at the venue with a mat, cushion, blanket, water, and snacks. For more, check out the event page on Facebook.
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