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Strut the ‘Slut walk’, and then talk

July 16, 2011

Writer – Vinay Dora

Not so long ago, the Indian online news space was abuzz with talk of the proposed Indian chapter of the ‘Slut walk’, now rechristened ‘Besharami Morcha’ or ‘Shameless Protest’ for a larger reach. For the uninitiated, the ‘Slut walk‘ Phenomenon began in Toronto, Canada in response to a Toronto police-officer’s remark that ‘women should avoid dressing like sluts’ while addressing a security audience.

Since then, Slut-walks have been held in 60 cities in the United States and Canada alone, along with many others in the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Finland, Ireland, South Africa and even Kyrgyzstan. The various walks have seen people from all walks of life, including men and children walk in solidarity with the message. But do innovative campaigns like this really make a difference?

Whatever the name maybe, personally I believe it’s important for the issue to be raised, especially in India, which was recently ranked fourth worst when it came to be a women, behind Afghanistan, Republic of Congo and Pakistan. While their ranking maybe skewed, considering the size of the country and that a city like Chennai is safer for women than most western cities, it’s nevertheless a shame when it comes to our capital city.

The Right-wing VHP, has warned organizers of consequences if the indecency and shamelessness crossed ‘their’ limits. But it’s not just the VHP. A few women and popular personalities are unhappy with the Indian Slut walk as well. Writer Shobha De believes that ‘naming the protest a ‘Slut walk’ degrades women even if it has shock value. It’s a campaign driven by women in the West. It does not connect with women in the Indian context’. Shaina NC, a well known designer asks ‘How is this walk going to help millions of women in India? They are doing this for sensational footage on television’.

What the ‘Slut walk’ does, on the other hand, is that it opens up a Pandora’s box for further discussion, ones like the notion of a slut, the emotions involved and looking at it from perspectives. Hence, my next post ‘Sluts – The Nation, Notion & Emotions’.

Note – This march did not taken place as scheduled in New Delhi, as organizers citied unpreparedness for the ‘backlash’ and will now be held in the end of July, along with one in Mumbai.

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