“My painting is about hope too. Blue is for hope; hope for justice and hope to end of street harassment”
It is really worrying and sad that almost all girls have faced some sort of harassment on the streets. Street harassment ranges from verbal teasing to stalking and physical harassment. It is an everyday reality. One that we neglect and ignore too often.
Reliable data on street harassment is not easily available. It’s a problem that needs proper attention. Here is an example of street harassment in Bangalore:
“I was walking down the street around 6 am to catch a bus, with earphones in my ears and jacket covering me. I only thought I needed protection from the cold…How naive was I? A bike pulled off near me and a hand grabbed my breast. I was in shock, utter humiliation and mad at myself for not being able to move an inch. He casually rode on his way, as if it was a day in the park.” Anon, Bangalore.
As a result of street harassment, a vast majority of women are afraid to use the streets by themselves, especially after dark and in rural and lone alleys.
Street harassment continues to be a major problem in need of effective solutions. A recent survey by the NGO ActionAid found that 79% of women in India have been subjected to harassment or threatening behavior in public. We need more conversations about and against it. Moreover, victims wish for more safe spaces where they could share their stories and experiences. The goal of the event is to create a safe space for people to raise awareness on street harassment and share their stories.
Goals of the Workshop
The goal of the street harassment workshop was to educate the community about the problem and use art to start a conversation on the issue. In specific:
- Raise awareness on street harassment and the continual danger it poses to the community (definition, laws, what do you do and help)
- Use art to express your feelings about street harassment
- Build up a conversation on street harassment in hopes of a fruitful outcome
- Educate and empower the community as a whole to stand up against street harassment.
The event took place on the 23rdof June at Dialogues Café, JP Nagar, Bangalore. There were a total of 12 participants. From team Sayfty, Layaal Ali led the presentation and artist Bhoomika Ananth led the arts section of the workshop.
The workshop started off around 11:20 am on the morning of 23rd June 2018, as soon as all the participants gathered. The workshop started with a presentation about street harassment by Sayfty’s intern, Layaal Ali. The presentation mainly focused on how to respond to street harassment both as a victim and a bystander. It also touched on the definitions and types of street harassment, laws on street harassment and Sayfty’s work. The presentation shared the 4Ds of Bystander intervention: direct, delegate, distract and delay. This information was provided by Hollaback.org. The participants were then given sample case scenarios of street harassment. They were asked to respond to the scenarios as a bystander using the 4Ds and their own knowledge. Participants volunteered to share their answers upon which other participants added their input. The presentation was mostly an interactive one, with group activities and discussions. The presentation took roughly 45 minutes after which the artist, Bhoomika Ananth took over.
Bhoomika began her session with a brief introduction on therapeutic art and how victims of harassment have used art for healing
She then proceeded to demonstrate tips and tricks for painting with acrylic colors. Each participant was then given a piece of mount board and was supplied with brushes and multiple shades of acrylic colors. Bhoomika then explained abstract art and how to use colors to express emotions and feelings for therapy. The participants were then asked to use painting to express their feelings on street harassment.
Participants painted a wide variety of paintings, each unique and different in its own way. Below are descriptions of paintings by some of the participants who volunteered to share.
“My painting is about how in a world of fire and hatred, compassion, love, and empathy can make the change. It might be a small change, but in the big picture, it matters. I used pink because I believe pink stands for love. In the end, love wins.” Nivedita
“The purple circle in the middle represents the victim. The yellow outside represents the bystanders.” Sandeep
“My painting represents hope. Hope is what I associate with street harassment; hope for the victims, hope for justice.” Adarsh
“My painting is about hope too. Blue is for hope; hope for justice and hope to end of street harassment. If you look closely, you can see the black squares. These squares represent the cages victims are stuck in. Cages represent how suffocated and traumatized the victims feel.” Shohaib
Participant Feedback57% of the participants shared that they have faced street harassment of some sort.
- 100% of the participants expressed an interest in learning more about Sayfty.
- Most participants liked the group activities best along with how they used art to depict street harassment. Specifically, most participants liked the bystander intervention discussion best.
- There was a request to not only make the workshop longer duration but also reach out to larger crowds.
- After the workshop, the participants felt confident in handling a street harassment situation better. They mentioned how they will engage in conversations regarding street safety more now and help create awareness through art education.
- Some other feedback involved addressing gender-based violence through education and stronger legislation. Teaching boys from a young age to respect girls. A lot of them also said the key to addressing gender based-violence is education and stronger legislation. They commented about educating boys from a young age, self-defense and information classes, better representation in media and being more open-minded.
The participants walked out of the workshop after agreeing with each other that they will be better bystanders now with the new information they received. They also agreed on helping to spread the knowledge and being more involved in raising awareness on women’s safety issues. For most of them, it was their first such workshop and almost all of them said that they hope it would not be their last.
Special shoutout to our team and all the volunteers who made this event possible: Layaal Ali, Shivam Varma, Bhoomika Ananth. The art workshop on street harassment in Bangalore is the first of many more such workshops by Sayfty in Bangalore. We plan to organize more such workshops on various everyday issues related to women and girl’s safety. If you would like to help us organize one and be a part of addressing gender-based violence, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some other pictures from the event