Notes from a Night Walk in Delhi University

[ B&W pictures, courtesy Chandan Gomes. Colour pictures and cell phone video footage, courtesy, Bonojit Husain, New Socialist Initiative ]

Dear young women and men of Delhi,

I am writing to you again because I have been listening to you. This is a strange time, when everybody is talking, and everybody is listening, and the unknown citizen, who could have been any one of you, has transformed us all.

I was with you last night, from five thirty in the evening to around nine at night, while we walked together from the Vishwavidyalaya (University) Metro Station to Vijay Nagar, Kamla Nagar and the North Campus of Delhi University. There were around twelve hundred of you. Several of you held candles. You made yourselves into a moving blur of light. As the shopkeepers of Vijay Nagar, as the rent collecting aunties of paying guest accommodations, as the men and boys and girls and women on the streets and in the verandahs looked at you in wonder, you looked back at them, many of you smiled and waved. I could see some people in the crowd lip-synch with your Hallabols.

[ video of the night march near Delhi University ]

You were angry and happy and sad and determined at the same time. Several times in our walk together, punctuating the steady, rising chant of ‘Hum Kya Chahtey, Azaadi’ you also said ‘Inquilabo, Inquilabo, Iquilabo, Zindabad’. I have heard The words Inquilab and Zindabad said separately, and together, many times in my life. But rarely with the passion and the affection, even the love and longing with which you hyphenated them together last night. And when you said ‘Inquilabo’ rounding off the end of the word with that vowel sound, as if revolution were the affectionate nick-name of a young woman, like Gulabo is for Gulab (like Rosie is for Rosa) I could not help thinking that here was a young woman called Inquilab/Revolution and her sisters, or friends, or lovers were calling her out to play.

[ Lokesh, Stree Mukti Sangathan, speaking at University Metro Station before the beginning of the March ]

Like the other occasions when i have encountered you in the last few days, you were peaceful, determined, angry and very vocal. I listened to you as I walked with you. Listening to the conversations and the slogans and songs in different clusters amongst you. There were very few faces amongst the twelve hundred of you that I could recognise, but I felt at home with you, as you did with each other. I felt that i knew you, that you knew me, even though we did not know each other’s names, just like we still do not know the name of that woman, that friend of ours, whom they spirited out to Singapore, whom they cremated in the shroud, not of privacy, but of secrecy. Many of you were there as part of different organisations, mainly with the Independent Left, with radical feminist groups and other women’s organisations. But many of you, perhaps the majority of you, were, like me unaffiliated. But we all belonged to the moment. And belonging to a time, and making a time belong to us, is sometimes just as important as, and occasionally more improtant than, belonging to a party or a front or an organisation. This night, this day, these hours are now ours. Just as you have said, ‘this body, this city, this street, is ours’.

I am not writing to tell you what I think today. I am writing to you because I am a chronicler of your desires. A witness to your witnessing. I am writing to you because I listened to you, because I want everyone to hear what you said to me, to anyone who cared to listen, to the city and be world. And so, I will simply reproduce below what I heard. I will retrieve from my memory of this ordinary and extraordinary evening fragments of slogans, snatches of conversation and song.

There was of course the ubiquitous refrain of the question that was also an answer – Hum Kya Chahtey, Azaadi. Which you would then immediately respond to by saying, to yourselves and the world – the following

Raat mein bhi Azaadi. Din mein bhi Azaadi.
Daftar mein bhi Azaadi. College mein bhi Azaadi.
Hostel mein bhi Azaadi. Schoolon mein bhi Azaadi.
Karkhanon mein bhi Azaadi. Khalihanon mein bhi Azaadi.
Sadak pe bhi Azaadi. Gharon mein bhi Azaadi.
Shadi karne ki Azaadi aur Na Karne ki Azaadi.
Pyaar ki bhi Azaadi aur Dosti ki Azaadi.
Behan mangey Azaadi. Bitiya mangey Azaadi. Ma bhi mangey Azaadi.
Mang rahi hai Aadhi Aabadi. Azaadi. Azaadi.
Kashmir mein bhi Azaadi. Manipur mein bhi Azaadi.
Chhattisgarh mein Azaadi aur Dilli mein bhi Azaadi.
Jangal mein bhi Azaadi. Shahron mein bhi Azaadi.
Gaon mein bhi Azaadi aur Kasbon mein bhi Azaadi.
Punjivad se Azaadi. Manuvad se Azaadi.
Mohalley mein bhi Azaadi. Pure desh mein Azaadi aur Duniya mein bhi Azaadi.
Bap se bhi Azaadi aur Khap se bhi Azaadi.
Dharam se bhi Azaadi aur Sanskriti se bhi Azaadi.
Samaj se bhi Azaadi. Sarkar se bhi Azaadi.
Kapre pehen ne ki Azaadi. Kuch bhi pehen ne ki Azaadi.
Denting-Painting ki Azaadi. Pub mein bhi Azaadi.
Bus-Metro mein Azaadi aur Disco mein bhi Azaadi.
Mandir mein bhi Azaadi aur Masjid mein bhi Azaadi.

You embraced the Azaadi slogan, took it from where it came, turned it, played with it, made it dance and now you return it, enriched and enlarged. Now, when your peers chant it in Kashmir, they will echo you, just as you have echoed them, even as you both speak of and to different and similar kinds of desires for freedom. Different and similar sources of pain. This is how, with echoes and resonances, with rhymes and reasons, new solidarities are born and nurtured.

[ Where does a slogan come from ? The Azaadi chant, spoken the way it is in the streets of Delhi today, like the Mahabharata, has more than one beginning, more than one end. To many, in their late teens and early twenties in Delhi. It comes from what they have first heard, in this our time, now, echoing from beyond the mountains in Kashmir. They have heard it in demonstrations by Kashmiri young people in Delhi. They have heard it on television, they have felt its immediate and visceral power in Sanjay Kak’s film – Jashn-e-Azaadi, which several of them have fought to screen in their colleges. But it also has another provenance, another set of matrilineages. Nivedita Menon has reminded me that it came via Pakistani feminist groups, via a song and set of chants rendered by Kamla Bhasin in an earlier moment of the feminist movement in Delhi. A slogan and a political moment inherits and is a carrier of different bits of DNA, different sets of political nuances and desires. None is more important than the other. Though in terms of provenance, some may have greater priority. Here in priority, I stress the meaning of ‘prior’ as in before. And even ‘priority’ in this sense can mean different things, for different ends. It can mean when a slogan was first articulated, it can also mean when a slogan was first heard, it can also mean when a slogan was first snatched from the air, from history, from memory, and it can also mean when a slogan was first echoed. It can mean each and all of these things at the same time. The miscegenation of these different bits of DNA point to a mitochondrial Eve, a first mother, as well as to a daughter in the far future, who, like the poet Vidrohi said outside the University Metro Station as the protest paused at night, is the mother and daughter of us all. We share one present, many pasts and many futures.]

You spoke against Pitrisatta, Manuvad, Pedarshahi, Patriarchy.
You spoke against female foeticide, sexual harassment in the work place, about the exploitation of women workers, about violence within the home, within marriage.
You said the obvious and still the necessary thing to say – Nari Mukti, Sabki Mukti.
You said Hallabol to the State, the Army, the Police, UPA and NDA.
You said Hallabol to Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dikshit and Sushma Swaraj.
You said Jo Na Boley, Us Pe Bol, Hallabol, Hallabol.
You spoke against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
I saw a hand written sign remembering Nilofar and Aasiya Jaan.
I saw hand written signs against marital rape and custodial violence.
I even saw a hand written sign against how publishing companies have locked up the photocopiers on campus.
I heard the names of Bhagat Singh and Rosa Luxemburg hurled into the air in one strange keening cry. I heard another voice say ‘Kaun, Who’ and I heard another voice say ‘Abey, Rosa, Rosa’ as if you were talking about a classmate. And then, it was – ‘Inquilabo, Inquilabo, Inquilabo Zindabad’ again.

Then you talked about Hostel Deadlines. 8 Pm Curfews. About library hours.
You talked about hostel accommodation and transport and why there are so few women’s toilets.

I heard the words of a beautiful song, the sharpest song that I have ever heard about the sanctum sanctorum of Lutyens’ Delhi, where they think they can decide your fate. A fragment of the song went something like this.

Chaurasi banglein hai Rama, banglon mein bageechey
Behisaab marghat hai inki har kyaari ke neeche
Tod na lena inke naazuk nakhrey vaaley phool ko
Khadi hui hai police-military talwaaron ko kheenchey

Saheb ke daftar ke bahar khadi hui hai zindagi
Fir raddi ke tokr mein padi hui hai zindagi
Paise ke hathode se shoshan ne iski maar ki
Ki jagah-jagah se  tukda-tukda toot gai hai zindagi

Chaurasi banglein hai Rama, banglon mein bageechey
Behisaab marghat hai inki har kyaari ke neeche …

[ Thanks to Anmol Ratan from AISA, Delhi University, for sending me the lyrics of what was sung yesterday ]

(Eighty-four bungalows for each of them, and for every bungalow a lawn;
piles of laundered cash for them to make their beds upon.
Don’t touch these dainty flowers of theirs that sigh and faint away:
cops and soldiers guard their gates with naked swords drawn.

At the Big Man’s office door my life stands waiting with a file;
once more I find my life cast out upon the garbage pile.
My life is broken everywhere: their clubs of solid gold
have gone about their business in the old accustomed style.)

{Thanks, Sandeep Srikumar for help with the translation of the ‘Chaurasi Bangla’ song? }

I heard voices getting tired. I heard one voice pick up the thread of a slogan where another trailed. I heard one cluster of voices answer another cluster of voices.

Then I heard another song, which in a delightful purbaiya accent, said something like this –

Azaadi mang rahey logon se kisko khatra hota hai
Year suna hai Lathi Cha’raj halka-halka hota hai

Then you can back to where you started. Two and a half hours later, to the mouth of the University Metro Station. Several amongst you spoke. Simply, clearly, briefly. An older friend spoke an uncannily beautiful set of poems. He said the first woman to be burnt was his mother and the last woman to be assaulted will be his daughter. You listened, and then you spoke again. You went beyond demands and spoke about desires. One of you used that beautiful word that gets abused so easily – Vasana. Someone spoke about reclaiming today’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Venues and times for the reclaiming of public space for women through celebration were declared.

Two of clock in the afternoon, today 31st December, 2012 at Central Park in Connaught Place.
Ten at night – Night Walk, tonight, 31st December, 2012, from JNU outwards into the neighbourhoods, to Munirks
Ten thirty at night, tonight, 31st December, 2012, to one in the morning of the first day of the new year – street party at Anupam PVR complex.

Then some of you brought out guitars and sang. Old songs, new songs, songs still being written.

Someone laughed and said, a demonstration (like this one) where no one brings a tricolour flag, where there are no screams for the death penalty, is a gathering where no woman fears being molested.

We dispersed. Then the night dissolved into conversations, sleep, dreams, intimacy, laughter, silence and islands of insomnia.

But before I end writing to you tonight I want to thank you for enlarging the circle of this moment. For making it wider than Rajpath, wider than Jantar Mantar, for taking your desires, my desires, our desires into the capillaries of the lanes and bylanes of our city. Into neighbourhoods and colonies. Leave no neighbourhood, no street untouched. Reach every classroom and bus-stop.

And consider your universities. Consider how they are run and how they need to be run. If the university authorities do not immediately commit to building at least as many girls hostels as there are boys hostels they are contributing to an environment that is based on the insecurity of women students. If they do not commit to withdrawing the draconian and misogynist tyranny of 8 pm deadlines by which women students have to return to hostels they are contributing to an unequal and hierarchical culture on campus. If they do not keep libraries and laboratories open and safe for women students at night they are depriving women students of their right to education. If they do not immediately commit to round the clock safe bus and public transport facilities within campus and to and from the immediate neighbourhoods where many students stay in private paying guest accommodations because they are not enough hostels they are fostering the conditions that give rise to rape and harassment. If they do not build many more womens’ toilets and crèches for women faculty they are consolidating patriarchy on campus by making it inconvenient for women to study and work in the university. These demands are neither new, nor trivial, not difficult to respond to with concrete measures. The universities are not under-resourced. And if the authorities say they are then you have to ask them what they are doing to change that. Many of you have made these demands before. Now is the time to make them again. And if they do not respond to you with the respect and consideration that you deserve, then, dear young women and men of Delhi, you can simply choose to make the universities unworkable. Because if the universities are spaces where women feel unsafe and uncared for, they are not working anyway.

Good night, good morning and a happy New Year’s Eve and a great new year to all of you.

I remain, with you, in friendship and solidarity.







To see YouTube videos of the nights march see uploads by the New Socialist Initiative at

To see the Facebook album of Chandan Gomes following the protests see

38 thoughts on “Notes from a Night Walk in Delhi University”

  1. As usual very well written…. All through these I have constantly thought and thought….. This is unforeseen, we want the future leaders of the country to alert today, aware today…but when this has happened, is happening why is everybody in the leadership so uncomfortable?
    We seem to be enacting the days from 1942 or 1945…. we seem to be in the same situation…pitted against a Government, that not only does not understand but doesn’t care to understand, is scared to understand……


  2. Well said, Shuddhabrata .
    I really appreciate the efforts you make here; particularly the way you put it all together, to make a semblance of meaning to our profound outrage .
    It is time we did something to stop the ‘lumpenization’ which is not just of those in the lower rungs of society but possibly the entire country shaken by the horrors of anti -women morals , snobbishness of the wealthy, shamelessness in displaying greed for dowry, timidity of vote -bank obsessed political bosses bowing before khap panchayat and honour criminals,and so on..


  3. Sheer a beauty. Thank you very much for taking us to Delhi University and letting us experience the profound outrage demonstrated peacefully by Indian Youth


  4. Shuddha, thank you for your meticulous documentation of these protests in Delhi, and thank you for your wonderful, thoughtful posts that have said everything I would have wanted to say and more.
    I have a problem though, with the way you have de-linked two slogans that have come to have wide currency in these protests, from their much longer histories; perhaps you heard them for the first time here.
    But in one case you isolated it from a long left (specifically ML) lineage (Inquilabo inquilabo inquilabo zindabad), and in another from a long South Asian feminist lineage (Behnen mangein aazadi). This slogan comes from the Pakistani women’s movement in the early 1980s, and came to India via Kamla Bhasin who made it into a feisty joyous song of defiance that we have sung for decades.
    This is not just nit-picking, as I hope you will agree. It is about not freezing a moment in time so that all its palimpsest-like qualities are erased.
    Feminists particularly have long had to struggle against being appropriated as something else, and even longer against being seen as derivative of something else, and forever in fact against being told gender is really class or caste or nationality.
    In fact, you may remember we had a conversation when you first said this to me a few days ago, when I corrected your impression that this slogan “came from Kashmir”. That you still chose to present it as such makes me wonder why it is so easy to dismiss some histories and exalt others, and why women’s movements and women’s histories have to be at the receiving end of “the enormous condescension of posterity”, even in our own time.
    Aazadi is a dream that belongs to many and varied sections, and all of these have independent histories and stories, and each deserves to be told in its own terms.
    Warmly, Nivi


    1. Dear Nivedita, as always, I learn from you. My only excuses, which are lame is the combination of exhaustion and exhilaration while writing a narrative which must contain many slips and errors. I am totally in agreement with you that one should not, wittingly, or unwittingly, subsume the narrative of one history of struggle in another history, whatever be the circumstances. And I would be the last person to insist on a hierarchy or priority list of causes. As far as I am concerned, the issues of gender and caste, neither come before, nor after the questions of class or self determination. And as you know well, I have always urged my friends in Kashmir to engage with and listen to other histories and meanings of the word ‘Azaadi’ as well.

      One other thing. I spoke to many amongst those young people, from different organisations, bearing different histories, who have been in these marches. They are mainly people in their late teens and early twenties. For them, the ‘hum kya Chahtey – Azaadi’ slogan has a direct link to what they have heard from Kashmir. More than one person has spoken to me about the shiver that they experienced on realising, that as one of them said, in ‘snatching the slogan from the air, they immediately sensed the fact that they felt they were echoing Kashmir’. And if you listen to the cadence of the way they speak it, even in the strange rhythms and rhymes of accent and delivery, it is impossible not to recognise the resonance of that immediacy. Of course, when talking about it, we must layer it with the different histories, the matrilineages, if you like, of the slogan, it’s substance and its scansion.

      Thank you for the care and thoroughness of your reading of what I have written. As someone who writes to think, it is always salutary to have a reader who is ahead and beside my attempts to think, even in moments of exhausted, exhilarated insomnia. I am going to try and amend the text, with a reference to this our conversation, to reflect the complexity of the slogan and its provenances.

      Yours, in friendship, always learning



    2. Shuddha, we use to sing this song in the 1980s. Nivi is absolutely right.Thats how I have circulated it on facebook. Kamla Bhasin rewrote the song several times and it was one of the most popular songs for the women’s movement through the 80s and even in the 1990s. Thanks for the report on DU. I wish I was in Delhi at this time.


      1. Thank you Ranjani, for pointing this out. I have amended the text to indicate the many provenances of the incantation/utterance/slogan/song – and see also my reply to Nivedita in the comments below. I wish you were in Delhi too in this extraordinary time. best, Shuddha


  5. I think it’s fear that keep the authorities from waving something like the 8 pm deadline. Fear that someone will get into trouble and they (the authorities) will have to take the blame. It’s an open admission that the university isn’t safe after dark. If they (the authorities) take a progressive step and let women choose when and where they can go in the university they would have to follow up with brighter lights, banning thoroughfare, campus security, etc. They would be held accountable. I think its fear and apathy that keep them from taking any responsibility and the fact that they can do nothing for anybody and still keep running the university. I think the before 8 pm rule in the university reflects what the government everywhere in India stands for; to take as few risks as possible, to take absolutely no progressive steps which may backfire on them unless they do some actual work and yet stay in power.


    1. Dear Vaibhav, I agree with you entirely. What prevents the university authorities and hostel administrations from revoking the 8 pm deadline is a combination of fear and apathy. It’s time we gave that combination it’s proper name – which is misogyny.


  6. I wish I had been there, Shuddha. These moments are transforming this city, and perhaps also transforming the rather partisan perception many of us have held about Gen Y. Contrary to all such perceptions, those young people have emerged as committed, shorn of all sorts of inhibitory baggage, which I saw on display with even some seasoned activists at Jantar Mantar on Saturday, and truly wanting nnothisng less than complete equality.


  7. I did not hear/read any reference to caste in these voices. did i miss it in the writeup? did you “forget” to include it? were there no public references to caste during this walk?



    1. Dear Radhika, there was an explicit statement that said ‘Manuvad se Azaadi’ I think a call for liberation from the casteist, sexist ‘Codes of Manu’ is quite forthright in its denunciation of the caste system. There may have been others. And there were many kinds of slogans. I have only written those that I heard and remember, from my time walking with different sections of the crowd. I hope others who were there can fill in any gaps that must necessarily exist in a narrative as partial as mine. Thanks, Shuddha


  8. Dear Shuddha

    Gripping and moving as usual.
    your have drawn attention to he connect between aunties and their tenants that has perhaps begun to be formed for the first time, a connect that will perhaps grow into a human bond transcending the land lady tenant link. You have also underscored another connect that needs to be forged between this protest and the apparently routine demands like hostels and crèches and removing women specific deadlines in hostels and labs and libraries. Kudos!!!


  9. thanks for the article. Truely said, no one knows the other in these gatherings, yet all sing the same song..and speak words that have the power to hit all in the city with the strongest emotions of anger,rage, need for a change.The most powerful moments of public participation have been witnessed and i sincerely hope that this is a step towards some concrete result..And i hope Delhi witnesses more of these,more streets come to life with such sightings and more neighbourhoods become the place of such events..


  10. the original poem starts as :

    चौरासी बंगले हैं रामा, बंगलों में बगीचे
    बेशुमार धन दौलत, इनकी हर क्यारी के नीचे

    तोड़ न लेना इनके नाज़ुक, नखरे वाले फूल को
    खड़ी हुई है पुलिस मिलिट्री तलवारों को खींचे

    It might have been changed slightly (though not very artistically, if the author’s memory is to be trusted) to match the context of the protest.


  11. The best part for me was that right we after we moved out of the first residential area, the shopkeepers and other onlookers that had been staring at us when we’d gone in, were now holding little candles, with a number of them joining the march for a bit, as well.


  12. Thanks for so beautifully conveying the angst, aspirations and energy of this historic(al) moment!


  13. Of what the last paragraph says – I agree how changes are to be made, small yet significant steps that will probably bring about better circumstances with time. The fight is against a ‘CULTURE’ of patriarchal hierarchy and change if it has to occur should start from universities and colleges similar rules/code for girls and boys


  14. A very impressive account of the movement/revolution. I maybe non practical in hoping it reaches the ears of those who do not wish to listen but i do badly hope that they take into consideration and act on the needs of those they serve, The people!


  15. Thank you Shuddha for this report as we have been hoping to hear from you about the situation there. We send our warm wishes and solidarity.


  16. Dear Shuddhabrata, I am a 65 year old female living in Canada and have never experience gender-related fear. Over a year ago I stopped watching television and listening to the radio because I had enough of seeing all the violence in the world and having the feeling that there is nothing I can do about it. Today I followed a link on Facebook which had been posted by a feminist friend. After reading about the rape and murder of this ‘anonymous’ girl and the courage women in India need in order to go about their daily lives, I felt compelled to write to you, Your description of the demonstration at Delhi University is inspiring and conveys a sense of moving towards real change. I am not good with words but I really want to say is that I am sure that women everywhere share your pain and outrage. If there is nothing else I can do but tell you this, then I must do so, Stay strong and courageous and persevere with your goal of making Delhi University a safe environment for women. What use is an educational institution if it is not built on a foundation of human rights, peace and justice? It is a good place to spread the message that abuse of women will not be tolerated.
    Blessings from an anonymous friend.


  17. If no man is left on this planet and only women survive. Then also women wont be safe and free.


  18. This is patronising attempt to paint an ideological colour to a more grounded and simpler agenda for most of the protesters. Nobody has even heard of Kak, for instance, leave alone seen his film. This attempt to hijack the agenda of protesters brought together by our common interests of the safety of our selves, and that of our sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, friends regardless of our politics is deplorable.


  19. I want azaadi from hypocrite freaks like you. You are superficial society is what I want to be free from first. A girl was raped a girl was murdered and the whole country is at shame. What were you doing when a whole village was raped, when a whole state was raped. You are just a filth of the society with double standards today you are using a dead woman as a cause for your freedom and not hers. Nirbhaya the brave woman who put up a fight (it is a bull shit story) She did a mistake of going out at night and boarding a bus which was private. Have you ever heard of XXXX is not a fictional name this is a real name. The girl was raped and killed in her hostel where is the justice for her. Oh she doesnt belongs to Delhi that doesnt makes her an Indian or that doesnt makes her a sensation or that doesnt count cause a rod was not inserted in her vagina, or a rumour was not spread about her. What freedom do you want freedom to roam around on streets naked. Or freedom to get drunk, or freedom for incest and homosexuality. What are you fighting against the govt for? Azadi equality!!! Equality does not mean justice.What kind of Azadi are you fighting for. Your dead brains have always been possessed by media and you believe everything and you write everything. You should first get azadi for your own brain to think for yourself. If a deer wants azadi in a jungle he will have to face a tiger someday. You take your precautions and you will be safe you take complete azadi you are dead.


    1. Mr. Morrison (whosoever you may be). We are letting your comment stay on here only to reveal your misogyny, your sexism and your utterly vile prejudices. We have blocked out the name of the woman whom you claim is another rape victim, out of regard for her privacy, which you of course had no problem in violating. You reveal yourself. You say – ‘she did (sic) a mistake of going out at night and boarding a buns which was private’. What mistake did she make? That of asserting her freedom to be in the city like any citizen ? What would you prefer, that women stay within the four walls of a house under the protection of people like you. Was the fact that it was a private bus her fault? Is it not a shame that e government in Delhi is unable to provide adequate and safe public transportation to its citizens? Or are you suggesting that it is the citizen’s fault that they should even think of being mobile? Sorry I have already pointed out that you think so. You accuse us of asking for freedom for Homosexuals and Homosexuality. Of course we do. Which sane, civilised person does not? I do not think that people who want to lock up or condemn people merely because of their perfectly normal and healthy desires are sane or civilised. Clearly you are amongst them. You accuse me of not paying attention to the attacks on villages elsewhere. clearly you have not followed the discussion here and elsewhere. i have been echoing what the protestors said. They have been chanting the names of some villages whenever many of them have assembled in the last few days. Names like Kunan Poshpora and Shopian. They have been remembering names like T. Manorama, Neelofar and Aasiya Jan, Soni Sori. Obviously, these names mean nothing to you. We want Azaadi from people like you, most of all. In an earlier comment, you say that women will not be safe, even if there are no men left on earth. Yes, they will be unsafe from earthquakes and fire, from blizzards, storms and some epidemics, and from some predatory animals, as all human beings have always been, and always will be. But they will be safe from patriarchy, which has caused more violence and more injury and more death than any of the above. Most importantly, they will be safe from your attentions. We have retained your comments, not because we ‘approve’ of who you are and what you say, but because we want to have your trace here as a shining example of the kind of masculinity that needs to be defeated and ground into the dust if we are to have a better world.


    2. Mr Morrison, you are absolutely right. We should really not be protesting against rape, against having rods inserted into our vaginas (as you delicately put it).

      We should really be asking ourselves why we keep provoking men into such barbaric acts, why do we choose to embark on such risky adventures? Why do we have the temerity to think that reckless acts like watching a movie with a male friend and using public transport later will not be punished. OF COURSE we deserve to be raped.

      Which sane woman would consent to watch an evening show and then have the gall to expect to be safe on a private bus? We women really don’t use our brains. We really get perverse pleasure in inviting rape and then raising false alarms.

      No wonder those rapists, those poor, poor men, were forced to insert steel rods into her interior. Women only understand the language of kicks and rods, so what could they do?

      Thank you for having the courage to show us who the real victim is.


  20. Indian women don’t just complain and protest, they actually *solve* the problem to the extent that the law allows them. See this:

    and this:

    My take on it:

    I admire these women of India who have made a complete technological solution available for free for the safety of the women of not just India, but the whole world.

    The question is whether or not India can be first country in the world to have a 24×7 realtime access and public-response system to prevent sexual assault on women – which also enabled the participation of the general population, making it normal to help women and protect them, thereby reversing the current habit of teasing and objectifying them.

    All we need is:
    * One office
    * One committed team of about a dozen people – including programmers, lawyers, media men
    * A few servers from some Indian server company
    * Lot of internet bandwidth
    * A few experts from women’s NGOs on the advisory board
    * One famous person at the top who wants this to happen – either an industrialist or a celebrity.

    Can just a couple of dozen people step up to do this?


  21. Dear Shuddha (I gave it myself permission to call you Shuddha)
    Thanks for the piece. I was feeling very guilty as I was not the part of “Night” Desire therefore is always ambivalent for me and so is Azaadi. As I was thinking of many disabled friends, both women and men, I was reminded of a real struggle of Azaddi for all of us were always fraught with great fear and pain. Be it education, employment, traditional and non traditional roles, we are always considered “ dependent” For my fellow disabled “citizens” who can understand the trauma of the23 year old young woman, because we are the ones who are the targets of sexual violence each day in both public and private sphere. Despite the understanding that disabled are “desexualised” disabled women experience a gamut of violence. They cannot protest as even if they want azaadi, there is no support that will encourage the reporting of abuse. They live with internalised oppression characterized by a normative hegemony which transforms disabled women to t believe what is said about them is true (i.e. terms like invalid, phrases like twisted mind in a twisted body, crippling, blind and other stereotypes). Thus a disabled woman p will believe that she is sick or at least, inferior, has forfeited her right to a full life, cannot make decisions for herself, is the victim of an fate rather than a callous social system. There are times when I am reminded of Ellen Bass who says, “ but to love life, to love it even
    When you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear
    crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
    your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh
    only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes,
    and you say, yes, I will take you I will love you, again.”


  22. So wonderful to read! And a great relief indeed : especially because in Thiruvananthapuram, all kinds of ironies seem to be afoot, There have been wonderfully moving protests and demonstrations by young people who I have never seen before in the many demonstrations I have been part of, whose anger and compassion was enough to douse the slow flames of cynicism about Kerala’s public that have been creeping within me. But I have just seen a protest, organized by the politically correct, in which the leading female public figure who presided had nothing to offer but tired calls for censorship of all sorts, laments about the demise of ‘moral values’ and the ‘fear of God’, veiled ire against humane treatment of prisoners (“they have ‘human rights’ “, she said — “the murdered women have none.”), and the irritating infantilization of women in general as perpetually in need of protection! And the reasons offered for this person’s overwhelming presence? The need to ‘compromise’ when several groups are involved! – not a compromise, but a complete caving-in! I was also at TV discussions where a smirking, evil man came up to us after the shoot, telling us that we actually were mistaken about the iron rod; it was actually an instrument “that grew bigger as you unscrewed it”! What I can see is that age has emerged as a major axis of social power — even the politically correct seemed determined to see that it will not be dented, whatever the consequence may be.


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