This Bystander Reaction Campaign was part of the Stop Street Harassment Week Activity in Connaught Place, New Delhi on 30th March 2014
We kickstarted our campaign with the enthusiasm and hopes of all our friends who came to our support in this campaign. We were excited about our streetplay and were keenly awaiting on what reactions we would elicit from the public. We performed at different places in Connaught place, where a lot of people were present. The main motive of our streetplay was to garner reactions from the bystanders. We wanted to know whether people would come to the aid of a victim or would, without any guilt, follow the policy of “ignorance is bliss”.
Our initial act portrayed a scene where three guys were teasing a girl who was quietly walking by. A lot of people were sitting directly in front of the group and were aware of the incident taking place. Yet nobody from the crowd came forward to intervene. At the end, the intervention came from our very own volunteers who questioned the morals of the people and asked them not to ignore.
We did two more acts without anyone intervening in between. At one point of time, we were told by a well-read woman who advised us to ignore the incident and walk away quietly. This incident took place on a very busy road with a lot of road-side shops. One of the guy was also found quoting ,” chalo , apna kaam karo ( let’s mind our own business) “. This really shook us inside-out , because post- Nirbhaya case , there was a lot of talk among people , lot of enthusiasm for helping out girls in distress, but when it comes to applying their ‘thoughts’, they take a back seat.
One of our acts took place at the infamous Hanuman mandir, where out of all the people, only one lady stood up and came to the girls defense. People are praying their hearts out to goddesses but they won’t come to help a girl in distress. Bystanders were looking at our act with great interest and entertainment, but not one of them came to the rescue.
Our final act took place at Janpath, one of the busiest markets in Delhi. At Janpath, our act garnered a lot of audience and thus a lot of reaction and instances of ignorance to study. Out of all the people, roughly 20-25, only one man came and intervened.
Our day was marked with hopes and disappointments, of tirelessly long walks and it ended with shocking revelations. We must have catered to about three hundred and fifty people, and out of all these people, only two three people consider it their moral responsibility of helping out a person in distress. Nonetheless, this day has given us hope that hopefully the people who have listened to us might give our information a thought and might not try and believe in the policy of “ignorance is bliss “.
– Jyotsna Kalra, Head Volunteer Outreach