Twitter on Saturday saw a huge amount of participation by Mumbaikars in a 24-hour ‘tweetathon’. Participants made pledges to make the city safer for women in the event which was conceived by Blank Noise, a volunteer-led collective that encourages public dialogue addressing sexual violence.
“As a boy’s mother, I’m going to teach him to respect a ‘no’. And to be self-confident enough to accept it. #SafeCityPledge,” tweeted Mumbai-based author, Kiran Manral.
One of the first ones to participate in the tweetathon, Manral said that the idea was to provoke people into thinking of innovative ways to make the city safer for everyone. “It was an online brainstorming session that saw some brilliant ideas,” she said. “Boys,girls, women and men all participated.” Hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani also pledged her support: I pledge to take affirmative action in any way I can against rape and eve teasing instead of just tweeting about it! #SafeCityPledge.
The #SafeCityPledge hashtag was trending in the evening on Twitter India for a couple of hours. The moderator of Blank Noise, Jasmeen Patheja emphasised that it's not a woman's duty to make herself safe, but cities as a whole should be made safe and welcoming. “The pledge calls for a 360 approach to building safe cities. It is an affirmation and a public promise to create change," said Jasmeen. "We have to take the conversations home, to our dining table while also asserting our role as citizens and demanding systemic change. The pledge also encourages individuals to examine the system they are part of and propose change within that.”
Vidyut Kale, an avid blogger on crime and politics who participated in the Tweetathon believes that combating sexual harassment needs an immediate leveling of injustice, but long term solutions will require defusing of the practice of overpowering another individual. "Rape is more devastating because of the intimacy of the violation as well as social stigmas, but it cannot be separated from the inherent legitimacy of might being right," he said. "So we need to initiate conflict management and dialogue skills within the population.”