Kerala govt announces ‘Night Walk for Women’ in 100 locations across the state

The walk will be held on December 29 – the day that ‘Nirbhaya’, a young gangrape victim in New Delhi, died after fighting for her life for 13 days in 2012.
Kerala govt announces ‘Night Walk for Women’ in 100 locations across the state
Kerala govt announces ‘Night Walk for Women’ in 100 locations across the state
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The Kerala state government has announced a new programme for women to reclaim public spaces. The Kerala Women and Child Development Department will organise a ‘Night Walk for Women’ on December 29, the day that 'Nirbhaya', a young rape victim died after fighting for her life for 13 days in 2012 in New Delhi. The night walk was announced by Minister KK Shilaja on Thursday, as part of 'Sadhairyam Munnottu' (Go ahead bravely) a scheme envisaged by the department for women empowerment programmes. 

The walk will begin at 11 pm on December 29, and go on till 2 am on December 30. Women can take part in the night walk either alone or in groups of two or three. The core idea is to reclaim public spaces that remain largely inaccessible for women with the underlying message that these spaces belong to all, irrespective of gender. Volunteers will be deployed in the areas to help participants. 

Minister KK Shylaja in a statement said the walk is to help women overcome the fear that prevents them from stepping out in the night. And following the first walk on December 29, several volunteers will conduct night walks in different parts of the state to identify harassers and inform the police, she added.  “Some people harass women who step out in the night. The night walk also aims to provide details of those men to the police, to book them and to take stern action against them,” the statement said. 

The 100 locations will have pre-decided routes that the night walkers will follow. Each location will also have 25 women volunteers. “The volunteers will assist the participants with finding toilets, will guide them if they are lost etc. Some neighbourhood groups have also expressed interest in setting up street-side eateries – thattukadas – for the walk,” Women and Child  Development department director TV Anupama told TNM.

The government is also planning to set up CCTV cameras and street lights across the state, starting with these 100 locations. "Functioning of CCTVs and street lights in these locations will be checked and this has been communicated to the authorities concerned,” Anupama added.

A ‘crime map’ will also be created with the help of Janamaithri police. The night walks will continue till March 8 – International Women’s Day.  

Minister Shailaja held a consultation with women’s organisations in the state before announcing the night walk. Each organisation has been urged to appoint a nodal officer for coordinating the walk. Local self governance institutions have been asked to form neighbourhood groups to make people aware of the need to reclaim public spaces. 

A committee has also been formed in all districts with district Women and Child Development officer as chairperson with members from Janamaithri police, Residents Associations, Kudumbashree and other organisations. 

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