Kolkata, March 21 IANS | 4 months ago

Swathed in trendy dhotis, sporting bright red devil's horns, around 200 people spanning diverse ethnic and gender communities took to the streets in the third edition of the Kolkata slutwalk Friday advocating "being human".


The march saw students, teachers, representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender (LGBT) community and a few from the northeastern states walk from south Kolkata's Jadavpur University to Triangular Park, five km away, shouting slogans.

"We are wearing dhoti as it is androgynous and therefore it symbolises inclusivity. Everybody has the right to be who they are irrespective of their gender...its about being human," Sulakshana Biswas, one of the organisers, told IANS.

In a show of solidarity, the third chapter also saw parents of some of the college-goers standing arm-in-arm with the youngsters. The victim of the Park Street gangrape, that made headlines in 2012, also made her voice heard.

"We want a humane society where women are respected and not looked down upon," the victim, who is in favour of the media publishing her name, told IANS.

With badges pinned to their outfits and sporting body art indicating the presence of the "third gender" or transgender (TG), they displayed large banners that said: "One Struggle; Stick Together".

As many as 18 members of the TG community joined the swelling rally that also protested against the Supreme Court verdict upholding the Indian Penal Code's section 377, which makes gay sex a crime.

For lesbian couple Suchandra Das and Sree Mukherjee, who were on their maiden slutwalk, showing up and walking despite facing discrimination in their daily life was "significant."

Retaining the essence of the slutwalk, participants rented the air with slogans like "Jaa porechi, besh korechi (I don't care what people think of my dressing sense)" and "Aao Aao Humko Chhedo, Kisne Kahan Mooh Mat Fero (come, come dare to abuse us, don't back out)".

Joining the Kolkatans for the third time were Hemley Gonzalez and his volunteers of the Responsible Charity from the US.

One of the foreign volunteers said: "It is crucial for all to participate as women's safety is a global issue."

Of the handful of residents from north east India, Shradha Salomi Lepcha, from the Lepcha community in Darjeeling and her classmate from Sikkim voiced their right to dress as they liked. They asserted that the death of Nido Tania, a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh, had aggravated the community.

"It is not that we were not aware of the discrimination prior to his death. But post the event we have been even more cautious. One of our concerns is being targted because of the way we dress," Lepcha told IANS.

Tania died in hospital Jan 30, a day after being beaten up by several shopkeepers in south Delhi's Lajpat Nagar area Jan 29 following an argument over his appearance and clothing.

(Posted on 21-03-2014)