Women dispel fear of night, hit the streets in unique campaign

Hundreds of Kerala women take to the streets during night walk on Nirbhaya Day

Thiruvananthapuram: As part of the enhanced efforts to ensure the safety of women at all places at all times, a novel night-walk campaign was held here as well as at several places in Kerala. A massive gathering of women braved the dark to walk the streets and claim their rights to public spaces during the night hours.

Highlighting the increasing attacks on women in public spaces, the women’s march in Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram on the Nirbhaya Day sought to challenge the dwindling presence of women on roads at night hours.

Hundreds of women took to the roads on Sunday, chanting ‘Public space is ours too’. Supported by the Women and Child Department and spread across six centres in the capital, including Manaveeyam Veedhi, the march boasted of solid crowds of women, young and old, at all the stretches.

Manaveeyam Veedhi, Jagathy, Statue, Kaithamukku, Manacaud, and Killipalam were the six centres of the nigh walk campaign.

The Night Walk had twin objectives of encouraging women and eliminating their fears to walk the roads in the night and demanding strict action against those endangering women’s safety. The police and voluntary organisations supported the programme. Among the prominent citizens who participated in the walk were Bhagyalakshmi, Vidhu Vincent, Bina Paul, T V Anupama, Women's Commission member E M Radha and Mala Parvati.

Hundreds of Kerala women take to the streets during night walk on Nirbhaya Day

The march started at 11.05pm from the Manaveeyam Veedhi with three women each walking a particular stretch. It proceeded along Vazhuthacaud-Mettukada route and culminated at Thampanoor about 12.30am. Some of the women did not hesitate to deviate from the planned route and take the interior roads also. Police patrol vehicles escorted the walkers. After the march ended at Thampanoor, in the heart of the city, some women raised the issue of nasty stares the walkers had to endure at some places.

While the Manaveeyam Veedhi was the focal point of the march in the city, similar night walks were undertaken by women's groups from 11 pm to 1 am at 22 locations in the Thiruvananthapuram district.

It ended at Thampanoor about 1am after a pledge and cultural programmes.

Alamkode, Thottavaram, Cheruvallymukku, Mamam, Tollmukku, Nalumukku, Gramathummukku, Kollampuzha, Varkala municipality, Varkala block panchayat, Varkala railway station, Vamanapuram, Gokulam Medical College, Venjaramoodu, Nellanadu panchayat, and Manikkal panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram also saw night marches by women.

Social Justice department special secretary Biju Prabhakar, Women and Child Welfare department director T V Anupama, and Nirbhaya Cell state co-ordinator Sabeena took the initiative to organise the march.

The walk held in various parts of the state had the highest number of participation in Thrissur with 47 women followed by Palakkad with 31 women. Idukki had the least number of participation.

A young woman was gang-raped and assaulted in a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012. She suffered grievous injuries and breathed her last on December 29, 2012. Her tragedy and subsequent protests had forced the authorities to strengthen laws to ensure the safety of women.

As she was later called as Nirbhaya, several subsequent initiatives for the safety of women were christened Nirbhaya as in the case of the Night Walk organised in Kerala the other day.