Kolkata: With a group of youngsters coming forward to hold a `SlutWalk` rally on Thursday, Kolkata joined the global movement of protest marches against sexual harassment.
Led by a group of students and teachers from Jadavpur University and other institutes, the group of around 300 youngsters marched from the varsity campus to Triangular Park challenging the stereotype that `women are abused sexually because they dress up like sluts`.
"We are told that the onus lies on us to prevent its occurrence. We are told to dress appropriately, to come back home on time, to not attract attention to ourselves. And the worst of all, we are expected to accept sexual harassment or forms of eve-teasing as a part and parcel of our societal culture," complained Calcutta University student Priyanka Dutta, one of the participants.
Young girls walked in all kinds of dresses right from sarees, salwar kameez to jeans and skirts to challenge the beliefs of those who accuse street sexual harassment victims of dressing immodestly in public.
Participants painted themselves with slogans besides carrying posters and wearing painted T-shirts to spread the message that women have the right to wear what they want without fearing any kind of abuse.
With similar rallies already organised in cities like Mumbai, New Delhi and Bhopal, `SlutWalk` is part of a global movement which began from Toronto last year.
A police constable there had told university students to "avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised" after which a protest march was organised where participants dressed provocatively to challenge the stereotype.
"We want to bring fore the point that one can be sexually harassed even while being clothed from head to toe," Film studies student Sulakshana Biswas, one of the organisers, said.
Held last year, the Delhi edition of `SlutWalk` rally had faced criticism from various groups for using the word `slut`.
"To call someone a slut because of the way one dresses or behaves is to malign someone`s character on the basis of gender.
Our effort is to correct this," the activist said.
Many of the participants were victims of sexual harassment.
"This rally acts as a cathartic experience for us as it not only creates awareness about the cause but also counters the tendency to brush off harassment or live in denial about its existence," said a 20-year-old student of St Xavier`s College.
At the end of their rally, artists from Fourth Bell Theatre group performed short plays and recited poetries on sexual abuse written by famous Urdu poet Saadat Hassan Manto and Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi.