3,000-strong crowd takes part in The Hindu’s walkathon on the Marina

S. Monisha, a class VIII student, who takes a bus from her school on Anna Salai to her house in Gopalapuram, does not like it when men get uncomfortably close to her on the bus.

P.S. Priyanka, who walks to her tuition class at five in the evening, says her father picks her up after class at 8 p.m. because her parents don’t think it is safe for her to return home by herself.

These students were among the 3,000-odd persons who gathered on Marina Beach on Friday to participate in The Hindu Walk for Women on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

A stream of school and college students, nursing staff, housewives and senior citizens, marched by the beach to reiterate the message of safety for women.

A. Anjum, class VIII student, said walkathons were a way of showing solidarity for the cause. “Violence against women must stop and public places must be made safer,” she said.

K. Sankari, a 60-year-old retired scientist-turned-entrepreneur, came to participate in the walkathon with her two friends. Ms. Sankari said they had come from all the way from Villivakkam to be a part of an important movement.

“It was encouraging to see so many men participate,” she said. One of them was M.N.K. Hari, a first-year student of Vivekananda College. “At home, my elder sister and I are treated as equals. This must extend to public places, educational institutions and the workplace too,” he said.

Educationist Madhuvanthi Arun, who read out a pledge, called for equality at the workplace and at home, equal representation in various elected bodies, and raised a voice against female foeticide and various forms of abuse and harassment. “Awareness about what constitutes sexual abuse and harassment must begin at the school level,” she said.

Mayor Saidai S. Duraisamy flagged off the walkathon, organised with the support of the NSS unit of Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Anna University and the Rotary Club of Madras.

According to M. Thirumal Azhagan, NSS programme officer, MIT, close to 500 NSS students from the college participated. MIOT Hospitals was the health partner. The title sponsor was Navin’s and the event was powered by Cardia.

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