“Kaash yeh betiyan bigad jayen
Itni bigden ke yeh biphar jayen
Unpe biphren jo tir o teshaliye
Rah mein bun rahe hain dar-o-rasan
Aur har azmaish-e-dar-o-rasan
Inko raste ki dhool Lange lage”
I felt extremely overwhelmed hearing these beautiful and powerful words by Gauhar Raza ji, tears that always get tough fight from my inner self won and were flowing with utmost ease as if no one has that power to stop them! I was wondering why he wrote this poem because no one of us would want to do that- mein kyu bigadoo? I have always been a good girl, good student, good daughter- not even for once did I thought of breaking the rules, not that I was admirer of rules and regulations but I didn’t even know whether me being a girl can do that too or was it even allowed for girls?
Because right from the childhood we are told how to sit, how to talk, in what pitch to utter words, what to say or what not to say, what are my responsibilities, what are my capabilities and limitations ! And we are taught that these rules are for our benefit and safety because if you go out in night and god forbid for enjoyment or pleasure you will be doomed just as what happened at the eve of this New Year. But what happened at 31st night, 16 December 2012 or for that matter everyday with the women from across the various sections of society on the streets, in the public transport, in the closed rooms of office or even home- is that justified?
To stand in solidarity with the survivors of sexual assault in Bengaluru on New Year’s eve, to challenge the rudimentary mindsets that restricts and confines women to the home and to fight Gender based violence, 16 organizations including our ‘Sahas’ from Dwarka (New Delhi) came forward to host campaign #IWillgoout.
For Sahas, it was a humongous opportunity – we were one of the co-hosts of the campaign and this happened just after 8 months of our Gender work! We were all geared up, various meet ups, video- messages, poster-pamphlets preparations and inviting people from all across the city in every possible way.
The event was to be held in Sec-6 market but on the last day, Dwarka Police denied the permission for the venue which was a huge setback. At the same time, disgustingly communal and defamatory leaflets were inserted in the local newspapers asking people not to attend #IWillgoout as it was organized by anti-nationals! I was surprised by the audacity and deepened patriarchal roots that couldn’t stand women wanting to go out in the night and stand in solidarity against something wrong that happened in our own country. More than being angry I wanted #IWillgoout to happen at any cost so that we can reclaim our rights in public spaces and make our voices clear that we won’t bow down to injustice.
So with all might, we marched ahead and shifted the venue to Maxfort School. It was amazing to see huge outpour of audience despite change in venue and time. The event began at 7 pm. Women’s rights activist Jagmati Sangwan, in very strong words condemned Bengaluru incident, she also lashed out at Dwarka Police for unsupportive and callous attitude and at the same time she invited the collective to grow stronger to fight violence against women. There were power pact dance performances by Khushi Rainbow Home Girls, Nawa and Ghazal and father-daughter duo Manoli and Pathik Arora, the rock music presentation by Ruchi and Tushar Negi, the soul stirring poetry Alka Sinha, Namita Choudhary, Rajni Sharma. The performance by Relaa group, who enthralled the audience with the songs of protest like “hamare geet wo kyu rokhna chahte hai”, the qawwali and skit by Dwarka women and Poetry by Gauhar Raza ji were inspiring, moving and ignited the fire needed to fight against Gender based violence.
Shabnam Hashmi ji and I was on Facebook Live throughout the event, which also mobilized lot of people and it was like a live telecast for all those people who couldn’t make it to the event. I was filled with happiness on seeing Shalini ji coming to the event and saying, “Meet Purvi, despite so many troubles and hurdles they managed to pulled the event so well. Your social media campaign was so good, that we actually managed to come otherwise the change in venue and time was so confusing”. These kind words filled me with so much gratitude and strength :-)
The event went on till 11 pm, then we moved to the Sector-6 market (our previous venue for which we didn’t get permission) and put up candle light vigil to protest against the irresponsible attitude of authorities who could have extended the support for the cause but failed to do so. Because of which we actually felt that according to system women can go out but only till 9 pm!
The success of campaign send the message loud and clear that #Wewillgoout, come what may :-)
At the end of the day, I was feeling happy and grateful to each and every person because of whom we could pull of #IWillgoout successfully. The campaign was not only important for the cause that we were fighting for or for the collective that was coming together in Dwarka to fight for the rights of women but also as an organization Sahas and more because I am a women too! If not me who else would stand for making the world like a place I would want to live in – a place where there is no room for gender based violence, a place where girl is not asked to stay at home to feel safe, a place where every gender and sexual identity co-exist without judgments and with due respect.