This Valentine’s Day, women in Bangalore, and elsewhere were in no mood for romance. Hundreds turned up at Cubbon Park here to take a stand on violence against women, and demand gender equality and justice.

A collective effort of at least 25 city-based non-governmental organisations, the event attracted women across various sections of society. This was part of a global campaign ‘One Billion Rising’ aimed at raising awareness on the issue. Organisations gathered here included student bodies, rights organisations representing the poor, Dalits and the marginalised, and women from tribal areas.

Mercy Kappen, program director, Visthar, an organisation working for women, children and marginalised sections, said it was good that everyone had come together to say no to violence and to resist it at home, the workplace or on the streets.

It was as much an expression of indignation as it was about celebrating the spirit of womanhood. Women danced and sang on the streets, made paintings and conducted impromptu speeches.

As many as 40 artists were seen contributing collaboratively to the large painting that had graffiti and various motifs themed around women’s freedom and rights. “I came to lend support to women’ empowerment by taking photos, blogging and painting,” said Abigail Rowlands, from England, a human rights activist from SICHREM, who was painting a depiction of motherhood.

Story-telling sessions and short-film screenings were organised by Maraa, a media and arts collective. Rajathy Gerlyn Henry, another participant who lead the group of social work students from St. Joseph’s College in singing, said: “I heard and read so many reports about girls getting raped and molested in our own city.” She spoke about the brutal rape in Lingarajpuram involving a 19-year-old.


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