- By Sophia Jones<p> Sophia Jones, a former editorial researcher at Foreign Policy, is an Overseas Press Club fellow and freelance journalist based in Cairo. Follow her on Twitter: @Sophia_MJones. </p>
Women in New Delhi are taking to the streets this July — but don’t expect to see the average run-of-the-mill protest sign or megaphone. These women are participating in a SlutWalk, an international craze that has been unleashed from Sao Paulo to Syndey. New Delhi, where 85% of women are afraid of being sexually harassed in public, will follow a string of over 60 cities to participate in the SlutWalks. The Mission? To blur the definition of slut and protest the notion that a woman’s dress instigates rape.
The protests were spurred by the remarks of Toronto police officer Constable Michael Sanguinett, who told a small group of students that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
Little did he know, his comment would set off a nearly-naked international revolt. Some clad in bustiers and others dressed conservatively, protesters now hold signs saying, "society teaches don’t get raped rather than don’t rape" and "sluts of the world unite".
Umang Sabarwal, a Delhi University journalism student, is one of the main organizers of the planned protest. She believes that Indians have an opportunity to voice their concerns over women’s safety in a city where she says women are eyed like meat. Sabarwal hopes to challenge the rape blame game, saying:
"Every time a woman is assaulted, people don’t blame the perpetrator of the crime. Instead women get a lecture about what they’re supposed to wear and where they can go or not go."
But the planned Delhi protest is generating criticism from both men and women. Some feel using the word slut, even in an act of protest, further degrades women. Others feel that the message of the protests is trivial as they are demanding the freedom to wear revealing clothing, not demanding "protection against violence", as Amrit Dhillon said in her article published in the Hindustan Times. The journalist cites issues like honor killings, sex-selective abortion and child prostitution that she believes should addressed first and foremost.
But with intensifying criticism comes even more feminstas, mothers, anxsty teenagers and other SlutWalkers that will undoubtedly strut their stuff in the coming months.