Antara Basu is a feminist writer and blogger, hanging by the thread of procrastination trying to achieve perfectionism. She has beautifully put what Anti-Street Harassment Week stands against.
Indian streets, famous for their food, infamous for their harassment; while the aroma of Bhelpuri tickles his nose, the sight of a group of men and the fear of being groped grips her heart. And just as the first handful of Bhel tickles his tongue, the crass cacophony of a whistle stings her ears. And that is the reality of a country that treats its daughters as goddesses. And unfortunately, sexual harassment is so prominent in India that street harassment, eve teasing and catcalls are almost normalised, something that everyone faces at some point in time. They’re shrugged off with expedient words of advice, “avoid that route”, and “dress modestly”, or “keep your head down, keep walking”.
Such gender-based, homophobic or transphobic street harassment limits various people’s presence in an already male dominated public sphere. Fastened paces, 1091 on speed dial, the occasional pepper spray and constant fear. Engulfed in all this, women step out of their homes and yet not laws, nor the police deter harassers. Or LGBTQ+ people, trans individuals who face harassment due to sexual orientation or gender identity. Laws, which exist without effective implementation. Or the police who’d rather spend their time blaming immodest clothes, states of inebriety and the time of the night than do their job.
As a cumulative fight against street harassment, Stop Street Harassment in partnership with Red Dot Foundation [Safecity] and Catcalls of NYC are organising Anti Street Harassment Week from 19th to 25th April 2020. This year will be the 10th year of collective action that annually brings together groups in 30 to 40 countries worldwide. Groups and individuals all across the world raise their voices and take action against this outrageous violation of privacy, modesty and basic human rights of respect and dignity. The Anti Street Harassment Week, encompasses within itself innumerable communities in different parts of the world which might be different in many ways. But united by a common problem that threatens the safety and security of its members. It is time for us to take action, to raise our voices unafraid and unabashed. To ensure that while the aroma of Bhelpuri tickles his nose, a group of men clear the path considerately. And just as the first handful of Bhel tickles his tongue she walks past, fearless and in silence.