#NirbhayaDishaMe: Protest at Bengaluru’s Town Hall over crimes against women

A large banner with the hashtag ‘#NirbhayaDishaMe’, covered with demands for better safety of women, formed the backdrop of the protests.
#NirbhayaDishaMe: Protest at Bengaluru’s Town Hall over crimes against women
#NirbhayaDishaMe: Protest at Bengaluru’s Town Hall over crimes against women

On a warm Sunday morning in Bengaluru, citizens and activists converged at the city's Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall as it turned into a protest site against rising crimes against women. Citing the recent gangrape and murder of a 26-year-old Hyderabad women, and that Monday will mark seven years since the gruesome Nirbhaya gangrape and murder, the protesters raised their voices against rape and sexual assault on women and sought better action by authorities.

A large banner with the hashtag ‘#NirbhayaDishaMe’ formed the backdrop of the protests. Activist Tara Krishnaswamy told TNM that this protest signified that any women could be the target of rape and that every person must stand up for justice.

The large banner was soon filled with messages — women demanding fast track courts be set up with dedicated judges, emergency helplines be set up with guaranteed response times, 33% women in the police force as mandated, and hundreds of more demands.

“It is a gathering of solidarity, but it is also a demonstration asking the government to be accountable and the states to be responsible. All the ministers that we have elected to power, you can mandate a coordinated and convergent action for safety, not advisories to women on what we should do and not do,” activist Brinda Adige said. 

Actors Sruthi Hariharan, who was one of the actors who spoke out during the #MeToo movement and who accused popular actor Arjun Sarja of sexual harassment, as well as actor Chetan Kumar, were also present at the protests.

“There is a case that has woken us up and that is why we are all here. But why do we need a case for us to wake up and start fighting against the system? I think we need our judicial system to start meting out punishment severely and more swiftly. We all want a better world for women to live in,” Sruthi said.

“We saw that the #MeToo movement showed men what the right way to behave is and women their legal rights. Therefore such awareness programmes help tell women about their rights as well. There are structural problems like police reform, which need to be addressed. We need an objective police force, we need a gender sensitised police force. We need to talk about street sexual harassment both verbal and non-verbal. We also want swift justice,” Chethan told TNM. 

The protest was also attended by social activist Meera Mukund, Dalit activist Ruth Manorama, author and social policy researcher Cynthia Stephen, Janaagraha head Sapna and many others who demanded better justice for women.

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