Across the city, residents gathered to protest the increasing cases of violence against women

Sunday evening on the Marina was strange, to say the least.

Even as MGR songs were being played on the beach to enthral the public and remind them about the late Chief Minister’s death anniversary, they witnessed groups of people in black, gathering slowly and organising themselves to protest against the recent cases of rape reported from across the country.

Apart from the gang rape of a 23-year-old in Delhi, the recent incidents in Nagapattinam, Thoothukudi and the city are also causes for concern, said the protesters.

The agitations began on Saturday at midnight, when a group of men and women, led by Radhika Ganesh, a social entrepreneur carried out a silent protest.

“The protest was to send a message to the public that the city belongs to women as much as it belongs on men, be it early in the morning or at midnight,” said Radhika.

Nearly 500 people took part in the protest. “Instead of asking for the death penalty for the accused, we are asking for speedy trials, stringent punishments and ministers need to push for that,” she added.

The protesters on Sunday, comprising people from different professions said they had come to know about the protests from Facebook. They carried boards with slogans that said, “Let's Unite.” “Rapists are not humans”, among others and walked along the Marina.

“People look at you differently when you wear jeans and t-shirts, as if it’s a crime. That has to stop too,” said Gunjan, a school student, who participated in the protests.

Shambhavi T., a student of M.O.P Vaishnav College said, “Every day there are unpleasant incidents when we travel by bus. Even the police are not helpful.”  

Her friend Akshara Sruthi added, “These incidents have only worsened the fears of most parents in the city. They now tell us to come home even earlier than before.” Actor Suhasini Maniratnam too participated in the protests.

Rajkumar Palanisamy who was part of the protest, said the fact that the city had not reacted to the rapes committed near home was a shame. “We are worried about incidents happening 2,000 miles from here. We need to be aware that girls are not safe even here,” he said, talking about the recent instance of a 12-year-old raped in Nagapattinam.

Members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too protested, forming a human chain on Sunday evening on Elliot’s beach.

“Political parties are giving tickets to criminals to contest in elections and government officials who are already charged with violence against women are allowed to walk scot-free. We want them to be removed form their posts,” said M. Lenin, member, state executive committee, AAP. Children should also be educated on gender violence and taught self-defence as part of their curriculum, he added.

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