“We need to support women. All this nonsense needs to stop”

You could have been the person who wrote “Seriously need to stop now! Times have changed, now change the conditions”. Or you could have been Satpal, a lanky daily wager who had enough time only to scribble his name and urgently walk away to catch the next metro train bound for Noida.

This was the beauty of the “One Billion Rising (OBR)” campaign that pulled into various Delhi Metro railway stations on Thursday to promote the message: Stop violence against women.

Either the voices of volunteers such as Rajeev Narayan and Pooja Sadana at Rajiv Chowk station brought in numerous requests for marker pens to sign the banners or commuters just came forward to ask what it was all about and wasted no time to leave their marks of support.

“We need to support women. All this nonsense needs to stop!” said Siddharth Sharma, who works for an advertisement agency in Gurgaon.

Whether Chandni Chowk, Vishwavidyalaya or New Delhi stations, the banners were packed with signatures, the volunteers had exhausted the pink ribbons or “Helplines” booklet they were handing out and people were keener than ever to support the cause.

“We chose 10 metro stations so we have access to a mobile public,” said volunteer Nalini Paul, just outside the Chandni Chowk station. “Most people have seen the banner and immediately wanted to sign.”

Yet unlike Nalini, who refused to get drawn into arguments from some passers-by, Rajeev said he had to deal with quite a number of comments from men blaming women for what happens.

“Some of them came and told me that women instigate such acts by wearing certain kinds of clothes…and I spent time trying to make them understand. Some understood and signed, others refused to sign saying that they didn’t agree with the cause,” he said.

But the volunteers were persistent in getting more signatures and encouraged people to show up at Parliament Street, where the OBR celebrations across the city culminated on Thursday evening.

Initiated by Jagori and Sangat, a South Asian feminist network, the OBR campaign was launched all over South Asia in 182 countries for women to rise up to their rights and demand justice.

With different organisations all over the Capital networking to join the campaign, there were different performance such as a wheelchair performance on North Campus, Delhi University students performing at Parliament Street and a gathering at Jantar Mantar.

Among those gathered were a large number of women streets vendors under the banner of National Association of Street Vendors of India who voiced their protest against increasing harassment, torture and violence of police and municipal authorities.

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