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This is night’s (8pm-5am) letter to the people
Dear women and men,
I am dark and beautiful and have the moon, the stars and the cool air. I have the lights and I am subtle. Yet, in spite of all these virtues, I am jealous of the day. The day, she has millions walking around without fear, or with lesser fear. Men, women and children, all moving around, in the stark whiteness of the sun. Well, most cultures hate me, I am discriminated against, I am evil and I am where all the wrong happens and the women have particularly been made to hate me and fear me. If they don’t adhere to hating me, they are punished and incarcerated for liking me.
I see a change in the metros of India
– men and women are beginning to walk and travel around at night too. However, women are still punished and they still fear me. Look at the steel and concrete skeletons gathering their flesh, women working all around making their walls, twenty-four-seven to fill their and their children’s stomachs (sometimes their men’s alcohol needs) and in this pursuit, they face abuse day in and day out. And the woe of the women who leave their homes to feed hungry mouths in their village, the bus stands and buses become arenas for men to exhibit their male brutality. Oh yes! The young free generation that wants to enjoy me need their men and their cars around to keep them safe. The day witnesses them too but not the way I do – I am torn and wretched, witnessing the violence that women face. But I am hopeful for a better future, where I am less hated and feared.
Women, come out and meet me, I can be safe if you claim me. Men, join the women in making me a safe space
. There is more beauty and comfort when both men and women can walk without fear in my streets.
Come join me in large numbers and set me free!
FREE THE NIGHT: it belongs to both men and women
· Why is it dangerous for women to walk at night?
· Why does a woman need to be protected by a man, (can men really protect women?)
· Why can’t men and women co-exist in the night streets as well? (not that we have a harmonious existence during the day either)
· Why can’t men be trusted to not abuse women?
· Why can’t we make the space safe instead of keeping women indoors?
The conservative and conventional answer:
o It’s our culture and it won’t change overnight.
o Why do you want to risk your safety?
o Think of your parents /husband/children.
o Men are like that, i.e. they are primitive and cannot control themselves.
o It is not possible to police the streets everywhere, all the time.
o Women are inviting trouble by going out at night.
A lot of these reasons might seem valid, however, as young women
in Hyderabad, we would like to see these questions addressed and the night space more women friendly.
Like most women in India
, we have faced sexual harassment of varying degrees and circumstances have led us to realize that the night space in particular is one where women are most vulnerable, be it working, using the libraries, hanging out with friends, travelling, emergency situations, taking a walk etc. This violence is experienced by women of every class, caste, age group, religion and ethnicity in our country and the world.
Ø The question should no longer be about just keeping ourselves safe but of making the night safe
for everyone, men, women, transgender and children.
Ø Giving culture as an answer cannot justify inequality of accessing any type of space.
Ø Saying that men are primitive should not take away a responsibility from perpetrators of sexual abuse
in any space, including(!!) the night space.
Ø Husbands, fathers, sons – tell each other that’s it’s not a matter of a girl/woman being raped, it’s a matter of a guy raping a girl. Start seeing that that being safe or unsafe is not in the inherent nature of the night, it’s in the nature in which we behave at night.
Ø And many more…..
Perhaps we can start with small steps of reclaiming this space that men have ruled and while doing so, some of them abused women
who tried to enter it.
We want a midnight walk in the city to send a message to the women that the night is also ours and to the men they need to respect women as fellow humans in the night too.
We envision it to be a cultural event as much as a political event. We would like your ideas and support in making this thought a reality.
Tejaswini and Natha