SlutWalk, a global phenomenon against sexual violence, began after a police officer in Toronto stated in a speech to university students that women should avoid "dressing like sluts" to avoid being victimized. Outrage over these comments motivated women the world over to march against sexual violence -- often in skimpy clothing to challenge the use of the word "slut." And despite condemnation by conservative groups, on Sunday, the movement came to India.
So what does SlutWalk look like in New Delhi? A few things are different...
No skimpy clothing: For one, in international SlutWalks, the women often wore skimpy clothes in protest of how female victims can be blamed for their own assaults. But in New Delhi, the Times of India reports, "the mood was more toned down." As the Washington Post reports, a spokesperson for the Hindu right-wing group the Vishwa hindu Parishad, Vinod Bansal, had earlier warned the marchers not to “cross the limits of decency and shame, or they will have to face the consequences.”
“We are different from the international SlutWalk. Unfortunately, the whole debate has been dragged down to miniskirts the world over. This has prompted the conservative Hindu groups here to frown upon us, too. But only 1 percent of our focus is on women’s clothes,” an 18-year-old marcher wearing a long Indian tunic and pants told the Post.
Not actually called SlutWalk: The march was called as "Besharmi Morcha." The Post describes: "To appeal to the traditional Indian psyche and make it more inclusive, the organizers softened the word 'slut' by adding the Hindi word “shamelessness” to the title of the march.
A relatively quick affair: While the Times of India reports that SlutWalk was "joined by hundreds of enthusiastic people," the Post, also reporting from New Delhi, saw it more as "dozens of young women and men" who "marched for 20 minutes."
Unwanted chaperones: Not only were Delhi Police personnel standing by (not unusual for a march), the Post reports that "several men and women came to the march Sunday because they said they disapproved of the campaign." For example, one man who was there with his wife said to the Post, “I am worried. Where is India going? Now our women are fighting for their right to wear less?"
But overall, it got the same points across: The Times of India reports that a street play was put on where a girl screamed as though she was being raped, to challenge the fact that no one steps forward as "scores of women in the city are sexually assaulted every day. " The Post observes that protesters "carried placards saying 'I Have Nothing To Be Ashamed of,' 'Stop Staring,' and 'Walk of No Shame.'" So overall, the organizers were excited about the results: "We hope to come back next year," one told the Times.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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