Step out of the mind­set, re­claim the night

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - San­tosh And­hale & Priyanka Sa­hay MUM­BAI/ NEW DELHI

Samta Katkade, a third- year BSc IT stu­dent of Vidyalankar Col­lege in Wadala, Mum­bai, looks over her shoul­der con­stantly, al­most as a habit, each time she steps out in the night. To her, night­time is syn­ony­mous with fear. She has been con­di­tioned to be­lieve that if she ‘ wan­ders’ late into the night on the streets alone, she is invit­ing ‘ trou­ble’.

But Katkade has had enough of the prej­u­dices. She is look­ing for­ward to be­ing part of a cam­paign that around 20 women's or­gan­i­sa­tions in Mum­bai de­cided to launch in the wake of the bru­tal gang- rape of the 23- yearold paramed­i­cal stu­dent, who died on Satur­day of a se­vere or­gan fail­ure fol­low­ing se­ri­ous in­juries to her body and brain, to high­light the need for ad­e­quate se­cu­rity on the streets in the night. The ag­i­ta­tion, aptly dubbed ‘ Re­claim the Night’, seeks to let par­tic­i­pants walk Mum­bai’s streets in the dark with­out a hint of fear.

“Through this ac­tiv­ity, we want to stress that it's im­por­tant not just to let women feel safe out of their homes in the day but also in the night,” ex­plains Nan­dita Shah, co- di­rec­tor, Akanksha Cen­tre, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that works for woman sur­vivors of vi­o­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Not will­ing to let the cam­paign die with the night, the ac­tivists plan to meet chief min­is­ter Prithvi­raj Cha­van and di­rec­tor gen­eral of po­lice San­jiv Dayal with a char­ter of three de­mands — to launch an emer­gency helpline across Ma­ha­rash­tra, to fast- track cases of crimes against women in court and not push for cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment for rape, but in­stead en­sure that proper po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion leads to ad­e­quate con­vic­tion. At present, the emer­gency helpline num­ber 103 is func­tional only in Mum­bai and Thane.

The or­gan­is­ers, how­ever, haven't been able to zero in on a date for the cam­paign be­cause they are yet to get po­lice per­mis­sion for it. “We hope to get it soon so that we can take to the streets and build women’s con­fi­dence,” adds Shah.

Jy­oti Ma­hapsekar, pres­i­dent of Stri Mukto Sangth­ana, which is also par­tic­i­pat­ing in the cam­paign, ar­gues that the aim is to cre­ate a safe en­vi­ron­ment for women, be it in the day or the night.

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