Bangalore SlutWalk cancelled as not "part of Indian culture" - report

by Nita Bhalla | @nitabhalla | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 5 December 2011 12:50 GMT

Women worldwide dress in skimpy clothing for "SlutWalk" demonstrations, campaigning against rape and gender discrimination

NEW DELHI (TrustLaw) – Authorities in Bangalore, India, cancelled a “SlutWalk” demonstration – an anti-rape protest movement where women dress in skimpy clothing –claiming there had been many complaints that this was “not part of Indian culture”, the Times of India reported on Monday.

“SlutWalk” demonstrations in cities from Toronto to London to Melbourne, and even in the Indian capital New Delhi, have been staged by thousands of women this year – outraged by comments made by a Canadian police officer in January who said “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.”

The movement has gained global recognition with many gender rights activists and ordinary women, angered by what they say are discriminatory male attitudes that convey women as sexual objects, rather than equals, and who blame such views for promoting sexual violence against women.

The Bangalore ”SlutWalk” was due to take place on Sunday morning, but on the eve of the event the organisers were informed by police that permission was being withdrawn, as many groups – including women’s groups – had complained in the run-up to the event.

"The vice-president of a women's organisation called me and said that if any women were seen in skimpy clothing during the Slutwalk, they would be beaten with brooms," said Dhillan Mowli, one of the organisers. Mowli said others had told him the event was “not part of Indian culture”.

In largely conservative and patriarchal India, women rarely wear skimpy clothing on the streets – even in major, international cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

According to the latest available figures of the National Crime Record Bureau, rape cases increased by 760 percent to 21,397 cases in 2009 from 2,487 in 1971.

But activists say these figures are just the tip of the ice-berg, with most women still afraid to report rape to the police, fearing they will be stigmatised or bring dishonour on their families.

Experts say attitudes are slowly changing, partly due to India’s growing economy, the advent of satellite television in even remote communities and exposure to western values, and the gradually improving reach of social benefits to rural women as countries like India notch up near-double-digit growth.

But the dangers to women remain starkly evident in cities like New Delhi and Bangalore.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

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