Spread A Message

The Delhi gang rape incident is still fresh in the minds of many. An intolerable mix of anger and helplessness is how I remember the incident.

A few days after that angel from the Delhi gang rape succumbed to her injuries, a friend informed me about a peace protest that was taking place here in Bombay. I was caught up with some work and was unable to make it. Regretting not being able to participate, I then thought I’d try something else to protest, to convey the message that a lot of Delhiites were trying to convey in the mind-numbing winter cold, and for days on end. Here’s what I came up with. These are posters that I made that night, and that were on my car for almost a month since, before my family asked me to take them off because they didn’t like the attention the car got when they were traveling with me.

Make India safe for women

Teach your sons to behave
Respect women

Sure it was initially very, very awkward, with people staring at my car. But the cause and the purpose of it overshadowed the uncomfortable feeling quickly. And while I was doing what anyone at the peace-protest was, this way I could  protest for longer, and I got to cover more geographical area while driving around town.

Now, this brings me to another thought. Most of the heinous crimes are usually committed by illiterate men, but instances of household violence, eve-teasing and harassment at work, etc. tend to come from the literate, well-read and even the rich and famous. And if just posters could reform anyone, the world would have already been a lot better than it is. So, what I hoped to achieve by keeping the posters on long enough, was to have connected with like-minded people whom I could work with to find a workable solution to make India safe for women.

Now, with the posters gone, I’m essentially back at the drawing board with regard to figuring out a solution, but here are a few of the encouraging responses I got while the posters were still on:

  • I was at a company’s office on invitation, to address their team on strategy. While driving out of their office building, the security guard there asked me what the posters conveyed; he then appreciated the messages and said I was doing a good thing
  • An employee at a very popular cafe, who was helping me park outside the cafe into a tight parking spot, was thrilled on reading the messages. He shook my hand vigorously while praising the messages with a ‘you’re doing the right thing’ look. I gulped at the unexpected but encouraging reaction, as I thanked him
  • A girl sitting in an adjoining taxi while I was waiting at a signal light looked pleased. She instantly sat up in her seat, almost magically pulled out a camera and took a snap
  • This one took the cake. I was stuck in peak traffic at a place where 7 roads merged at a circle  (with no signals functioning). I noticed a car zip from behind me to my right, dodge a car or two and manage to line up on my side. The driver pulled down the window, honked to draw my attention, pointed to the posters and gave me an encouraging ‘thumbs up’, before vanishing into the sea of traffic

People still care. We all care a lot about such a cause. Everyone cares about their wives, sisters, daughters and mothers. All we need, is to take some time, work together, to find a solution, and to implement it. We have to do it. No one else will.

If you feel you have workable ideas or suggestions to make our country (and other countries) safer, I’d love to hear from you. It’ll be even better if we could discuss (over coffee, via email or any which way that works for you) and see if we can come up with a workable & easily replicable solution. You can reach me at shrutinshetty@gmail.com, or on Twitter @shrutinshetty.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful and touching sand art by Hari Krishna in memory of the Angel who was the victim of the Delhi gang rape.

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  1. Hey Shrutin…..First of all i would like to praise you immensely for actually doing something and taking a step forward for such a noble cause.Hats off for that.
    I Would to share some of my experience here with you and all the people who are gonna read this blog in future.

    There are thousands of people writing and talking about this national issue of rape and sexual crime against women.But i would like to throw light on how all these sexual harassment incidents are impacting our society and more basically how it is molding a women’s mind.

    I woke up one fine morning and find that there has been one more rape case making the headlines in the newspaper today adding to the number of cases increasing day by day.i feel sad and helpless in my heart for not able to do something which can actually bring up a change a stop all this..I read it in a column somewhere that a woman is not safe these days and her security is in her own hands.
    And honestly i am glad that every woman knows that bcos sadly its true..:(

    It happened with me personally while i was travelling and a guy just approached me to help me out in something i needed help that time but i refused ..I still haven’t figured out why did i say him a straight forward NO…?????
    May be he was genuine and would haven’t taken any advantage of my situation.May be he was just trying to be a good Human Being.But i didnt trust him.I had a lot of doubts not because he looked indecent and dangerous but because i dint want to risk my situation.
    And What is the reason for all those doubts i never had before in these kinda situations…..What is the reason for my mother calling me again and again if i don’t reach home on time.What is the reason my uncle prefers my cousin to not to take a job which includes a lot of travelling.
    Are girls loosing their natural sense of freedom they should enjoy??Does every woman see a man in a doubtful way now???
    Reason lies in front of us….
    Increased number of brutal sexual violence against women.

    These incidents are impacting us all slowly and slowly at our mental level that too in a very bad way.

    A day will come when a woman trust wont trust anyone and we will loose the very essence of humanity that day.

    1. Hey Ayushi, thank you very much for the comment and the appreciation. While it did feel awkward initially, in a state of complete helplessness, it was the only thing I could think of doing. In the meantime, I have even tried repeatedly to contact the Chief Minister’s office, asking them what plans they have in place, and offering to help work with them in drawing plans and to implement them as well. But there has been little response from those quarters.
      You have raised a very, very important point. About a growing attitude of indifference in women, towards strangers. It is as real as it is unfortunate. What is boils down to, is that we will soon have a society which merely exists, but does not live. Somewhat akin to certain communities in parts of India, where women merely exist to cater to the needs of men, and nothing more. A way of life that’s worse than being dead.
      The inaction by our political system, and overworked enforcement bodies which are forced to cater to politicians instead of the public, has all led to increasing frustration in the Indian citizen, especially the women. And it is not right. Women, are just as human as men, and any atrocities towards them, physical or verbal, should not be tolerated. But if the government puts its hands up, we citizens will do whatever we can, but unfortunately, to a great extent, for the near future, it will mean that women will have to ensure their own safety. Till change happens. But happen it will. We, the citizens will bring in the change. So don’t lose all your faith just yet.

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