Delhi slutwalk grabs headlines in Canada

August 2nd, 2011 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Aug 2 (IANS) The first Delhi slutwalk made headlines in Canada where the trend originated in April when thousands of women marched in Toronto to protest remarks by a city cop who said girls can avoid sexual assaults by not dressing like sluts.

New Delhi’s slutwalk was the first to be held in Asia and highlights women’s rights in a country of 1.2 billion, said the nation’s top daily Toronto Star which flashed the picture of young Nishta Gautam wearing shorts and clutching her daughter during the march.

“No matter how many men on the metro or bus I slap, things do not change,” the paper quoted 26-year-old Nishta Gautam, who wore a blue short-sleeved shirt and jean shorts that were cut off mid-thigh, as saying.

“I am here so my daughter doesn’t have to go through the same thing. It is high time people sit back and really think about what’s happening to women here.”

The report said Gautam may have been the most photographed woman Sunday as photographers buzzed around her throughout the march.

She was surprised at most women dressing conservatively for the march. “I thought we might see more shorts and sleeveless tops,” the paper quoted her as saying.

Compared to Toronto’s slutwalk where young women wore bras and thongs and tights, New Delhi’s event was far more conservative as most women wore jeans and kurta pajama tops or T-shirts, according to the report.

Delhi Police commissioner B.K. Gupta was also targeted by marchers for his remarks that “you cannot drive alone at 2 a.m. on Delhi’s roads and then claim the capital is unsafe”.

Blasting the top cop, Nishta Gautam told the paper, “He is shirking the responsibility of police to make our streets safe. It is perverse and insensitive.”

The Indian capital topped all other major cities by reporting 489 rapes last year and the slutwalk itself provided several examples of sexual harassment faced by women in India, according to the report.

“At one point near the end of the rally, a Toronto woman who is in New Delhi to do research was told by her British friend that the man standing next to her had been staring down her tank top,” the report said.

“Earlier, as women moved away from Jantar Mantar, the city block in central New Delhi that’s known as a local soap box, a woman turned around and confronted a man who had been walking close behind her and appeared to be taking her photo with a cellphone camera. ‘Where is your mother?’ she asked angrily in Hindi. ‘Do you do this to your sister?”

Reporting the slutwalk, the national daily Globe and Mail said while women in Toronto and Boston marched in lingerie, the New Delhi version was tamer, with most marchers wearing jeans and T-shirts or salwaar-kameez.

Global slutwalks have been triggered by remarks from Toronto city police constable Michael Sanguinetti who during a campus safety session with students in January suggested that girls can avoid sexual assaults by not dressing like sluts.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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