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Radio in a Purse is helping spread the #MeToo movement across college campuses in Bangalore by offering women a space to talk about sexual harassment.
Any women-driven program has always started from the grassroots level, be it the movement after the Nirbhaya episode or the #MeToo movement. All women’s movements and campaigns have always been driven by the voices of ordinary women, be it in metropolitan cities like Bangalore and Mumbai, or smaller cities like Baroda and Jamshedpur.
It was no different for the origin of Radio in a Purse. It started when two girls studying in St. Joseph’s College, Shalom Gauri and Varkey Parakkil, formed an organization called Student Outpost, a group of students interested in sociopolitics, both within and outside the campus.
Radio in a Purse is a collaboration between Maraa, an arts organization, and Student Outpost, that aims to address sexual harassment both on-campus and off-campus.
Radio in a Purse came about mainly because girls, be it in an all-girls environment or in a co-educational environment, are often scared to report cases of sexual harassment around campus. They’re scared of reporting such incidents mainly because several colleges do not have proper systems put in place to address such sensitive issues. Even if such systems exist, they are not fully functional. Girls are thus left with no other option but to remain silent about the incident.
Addressing this issue, Student Outpost conducted a questionnaire in November 2017, which revealed that girls are often intimidated by the administration of the college, or the reputation of the college concerned. Maraa, after reaching out to Student Outpost, decided to start Radio in a Purse. Currently based in Bangalore, the initiative has members from several colleges across the city, including Christ University and St. Joseph’s College.
Radio in a Purse’s goal is to create discussions and awareness in college spaces regarding sexual harassment, and to encourage college-going women to talk about their experiences freely, however mortifying that might be.
Currently, the platform is used to talk about incidents around educational areas and spaces. Women have the option to reveal their identity, or remain anonymous. Women staff working in colleges are free to speak, as well.
Victims who want to take up the case more seriously can also get legal assistance from lawyers and activists working with Maraa.
Several tracks and audio clips are available, for free, on Soundcloud. One can find a diverse range of clips such as ‘Inside the Classroom’, to ‘It’s hard to find the right words’ on the streaming service. The main objective of this initiative is to ensure that all aspects of sexual harassment are addressed, be it stalking, obscene gestures, objectification or even peer pressure, bullying, or stereotyping.
So far, several women have come forward to talk about how they felt when they were raped, assaulted, or harassed, either in a private space or in a public space.
The end goal of the program is to create a student radio channel in India. Radio in a Purse is certainly a step in the right direction.
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