Delhi 'SlutWalk' derailed over dress code

Delhi 'SlutWalk' derailed over dress code

The common notion is that one has to be provocatively dressed to participate.

Ruchira Singh
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New Delhi: Women in New Delhi are caught in a peculiar dilemma as the national capital prepares to host India's first 'SlutWalk', a snowballing event that invites sympathizers to dress up provocatively to protest against sexual violence.

As New Delhi braces itself up for its first ever 'SlutWalk', there are a plenty notions and controversies that it has already landed itself into. The protest is first of its kind in India, and it's already finding it difficult to find its feet in Delhi. Organisers are going all-out to galvanise the masses but they have to constantly keep reassuring everyone that it has got nothing to do with being dressed in skimpy clothes.

Mishika Singh, one of the co-organisers told IBNLive that they have received numerous queries about the dress code of the day. And a large number of women are hesitant to join the protest as the common notion is that women have to be dressed in short skirts and hot pants to participate.

In other parts of the world, the central theme of the protest has been women dressed in provocative clothes in order show that they should feel safe and comfortable in any kind of clothing, and that itself is being the bone of contention here in the national capital.

The organisers are sceptical about the participation in the protest, because of the common perception is that dressed revealing clothes is a must to be a part of the campaign. They are taking every possible measure to adjust into the Indian 'sensibilities'. For the matter, the name itself was tweaked to 'Besharmi Morcha'. The protest is against perpetrators of sexual crimes, against the mentality that looks down upon women. And the rising fear is that the real purpose does not get diminished amidst the whole process of suiting it aptly for Indian audiences.

The point behind the protest is to stand up for the victims of sexual assault. All over the world, women are constantly made to feel like victims, told they should not look a certain way, should not go out at night, should not go into certain areas, should not get drunk, should not wear high heels or make up, should not be alone with someone they don’t know. Not only does this divert attention away from the real cause of the crime – the perpetrator. The protest is against habitual offenders, the ones who exploit women and blame it on them saying they asked for it.

The tag line of the protest says, "no individual, regardless of what they wear, where they go, how they behave or who they associate with, is ever to blame for their own sexual assault." True, to the sound of it, this is probably one of the most important issues to be taken up in the society, but is the capital ready to take such a protest in its stride?

Prabhakar Nahak, comments on Facebook writes, "whatever the police officer said I strongly condemn that but I want to ask something to all the girls! Tell me when do you feel safe walking down the road- Wearing full dress or wearing a small top and jeans. Do you not wear those clothes to make yourself look more sexually appealing. Ya every woman has the right to choose what to wear and what not to, but at the same time they must be practical. Because you know how men react in such circumstances."

And of course there are plenty who doubt if this protest is going to be of any good. Shuchi Gupta writes, "I believe people who are supporting this walk are doing so because they are just mesmerized by the whole idea because in the end even they know it is not going to solve any purpose. A walk cannot possibly change the mentality that has prevailed for so many years! We definitely need something more concrete and promising than this."

The idea has been effective in spreading the message across many countries and cities. But it remains to be seen if the Delhi chapter of worldwide wave of 'Slutwalks' be successful or not. As the sensitivities and understanding of issues is a lot different in this part of the world from the west.

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