They were all out for ‘I will go out’

January 22, 2017 02:36 am | Updated 07:27 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

Women carrying placards at Palayam as part of a nationwide movement, ‘I will go out,’ held in the city on Saturday under the aegis of Sthree Koottayama.

Women carrying placards at Palayam as part of a nationwide movement, ‘I will go out,’ held in the city on Saturday under the aegis of Sthree Koottayama.

As the sun went under the horizon on Saturday, the entrance to the Connemara Market at Palayam was witness to a large group of women from various walks of life assembling there as part of a nationwide movement ‘I will go out’ to reclaim public spaces.

‘I will go out’ is being held just a few weeks after large-scale anger and outrage over attacks in public on women in Bengaluru and New Delhi on New Year’s Eve. Saturday’s gathering, held under the aegis of Sthree Koottayama, a group of women who have been trying to assert their right to gather in public places night or day without any fear, was a statement against the rising incidence of violence against women in the State.

What started as a gathering after the attack on Soumya in Thrissur moved venues from Gandhi Park and Kanakakkunnu to Manaveeyam Veedhi when the need to be close to the street was felt. Today, the women meet every third Friday of a month to express their right to work, travel, and enjoy themselves unfettered by social attitudes and constructs of time, space, and body.

Placards emphasising women’s rights over their body, the freedom to dress the way they want, and to live without any fear were carried by those present. A poem written by activist and poet Kamala Bhasin and translated into Malayalam was sung on the occasion. Women recounted their experiences of being harassed and the need to speak out. Security, they said, was not what they wanted, but freedom to go and do what they wanted, unmolested.

Sriranjini R., a student at Ashoka University, New Delhi, said what was important about the event was that it coincided with similar events around the world. “Women even in the U.S. and the U.K., whom we consider liberal, are all fighting for the same cause.” The time, she said, was also important. “It is not being held at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. The sun is going down. We just saw women students in the gathering having had to leave because of curfew in their hostels. We don’t hear the same for men.”

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