This woman in Bengaluru collects clothes of rape and sexual assault victims

The reason why she does it will leave you speechless.

Sarwat Fatima Sarwat Fatima
दिसंबर 28, 2017
Women are never asking for it. Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ Jasmeen Patheja

A 24-year-old college student gets groped on a bus. "It was because of what she was wearing," they said. A 30-year-old woman gets gang raped by four men. "It was because of her dress," they said. A nine-year-old gets raped on her way to school. "It was because of her…?" they couldn't say anything.

There are hundreds and hundreds of rape cases around the world, where people blamed the dress worn by the victim. A plunging neckline, a strapless dress, a short skirt, a burqa, a school uniform--it really doesn't matter. Let's just pin the entire blame on the garments. After all, a woman's clothes are the ONLY reason why she gets raped, right? Well, at least this is what most people think. Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is absolute nonsense. But, in order to make the masses understand, a Bengaluru-based woman is doing something really extraordinary.

Well, This Woman Collects Clothes of Assault Victims

Meet Jasmeen Patheja. This Indian artist-activist is a part of a project called 'I Never Ask For It.' For this, she has converted her house into a museum, filled with clothes of various sexual assault victims.

According to a report published in BBC, her fight against sexual- and gender-based violence began nearly a decade and a half ago, just after she moved to Bangalore from the northern city of Kolkata (Calcutta) to study art.

"It was also a time when street harassment was being dismissed as just 'eve-teasing', something that boys do and girls must experience. It was being normalised. There was an environment of denial and silence around the issue, which made it okay to continue it," she says in an interview to Geeta Pandey from BBC.

What Do You Find Here

She has a ton of stuff in this special room in her house. There's a red jumpsuit worn by a woman who was assaulted by a crowd in Begaluru during New Year Eve's celebration. There is a cream-coloured kurta worn by a woman who was groped on a train in Coimbatore. There's a pink dress worn by a woman in Montreal who shipped it especially to Jasmeen. There's a gown, a suit, a shirt, a school uniform, a ton of other clothes. And that only points to one thing--clothes really don't matter.

She feels girls are always told to be careful. They grow up with fear in their hearts. So, in order to change how things usually work, Jasmeen set up Blank Noise collective in 2003.

How Does The Project Work?

Jasmeen wants women to open up and not live in shame. For this, she intends to start a conversation. Her project is aimed at gathering statements of assault victims. So, she approaches women in Bengaluru and other cities in India and asks them to share their experiences.

When one person writes, it encourages others to do the same. So they returned with white boards filled with names, ages, incidents of abuse, what happened, where it happened and what time, what were they wearing, what they did and what they wished they had done, reports BBC.

Block 1 of I Never Ask For It Wall. Action Hero Vrushali. Photo Courtesy: blog.blanknoise.org Block 1 of I Never Ask For It Wall. Action Hero Vrushali. Photo Courtesy: blog.blanknoise.org

"We found women often wondering about their garments. They'd say, 'I was wearing that red skirt', or 'I was wearing that pair of jeans,' or 'I was wearing that school uniform.' So it became a deliberate question at Blank Noise and we began asking, so what were you wearing," she says.

And this does make women wonder. They wonder whether they actually asked for it. And the answer is always no. What women need to understand is that their clothes have got nothing to do with assault.

So ladies, when in doubt, say this to yourself--I NEVER ASK FOR IT.

(Inputs taken from a piece written by Geeta Pandey from BBC)

 

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