Our four Safe Public Spaces Mentees are half-way through their projects. This week we are featuring their blog posts about how the projects are going so far. This first post is from our team in India. Their projects are supported by SSH donors. If you would like to donate to support the 2016 mentees, we would greatly appreciate it!
Street harassment and eve-teasing are common phenomenon in India, especially in public transport and public places. Girls and women usually ignore this ever increasing scourge which is destroying the social fabric of our society. It becomes a source of continuous mental harassment for them and as they face it regularly, then they suffer from low self esteem. In short, they lose their own existence after some time. For example, they keep themselves confined to their homes and rarely move about.
Since, 2010, Safe-Safar has been working to stop street harassment. We have been working to ensure the safety of women on public transport in Lucknow. Through our latest initiative, we are raising awareness about the issue on the streets, pavements, bus stands, railway stations, schools and colleges etc to aware about ‘eve teasing”.
In essence, the Siti Pe Siti or “Whistle for Whistle” is an initiative started by the Yeh Ek Soch Foundation under the Safe-Safar program and is supported by Stop Street Harassment. “Sitis” are a common form of street harassment. When boys whistle at girls, it is termed teasing and society doesn’t view it to be bad. However, if the girls do it to boys, then it is considered bad.
To address this normalized phenomenon, we have come up with “siti pe siti” concept, “whistle for whistle,” where we empower girls and women with a “siti” or “whistle” and the girls can whistle back at boys who whistle at them as a way to draw attention to what they did instead of pretending to ignore the boys and staying silent. This will give the girls a sense of confidence, especially for those who didn’t know what to do when boys whistled at them.
Our goal is to equip the girls with an arm (siti) for giving a timely response to this ever increasing phenomenon happening in colleges, universities and public places, be it railway station, bus stands, etc.
In short, the thing which was proving to be wrong for girls, has in fact become her strength.
Teams of 10 people are raising public awareness at different places through “dialogues” and “nukkad nataks”. The whole campaign will take place across three months. We held the first events this month. On 10th October, 60 youth joined a discussion about street sexual harassment where they discussed the types of harassment and how they stop it in public places. On 14th October, we did a public “seti pe seti” “whistle for whistle” event where we raised public awareness and had people sign pledges to stop street harassment. We are gearing up to hold street plays and more awareness-raising sessions in public places. We plan to hold two activities on a monthly basis. We will also hold a “Safety-Audit” of Metro routes in different areas of Lucknow.
We will close this campaign with a public dialogue.
Our campaign has received a lot of coverage in local newspapers and we were on interviewed on radio city 91.1, a national radio station.
Mohammad Zeeshan is based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India and founded and oversees the Safe-Safar program.Share on Facebook