A “Girls Night Out” initiative in the Indian state of Kerala aimed at allowing women to experience night life safely has shone a spotlight on a major issue of concern in a country once identified as the world’s most dangerous place for women.
The four-day campaign, started by Mathew Kuzhalnadan, a representative of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, saw a half-kilometre stretch of a state highway decorated with festive lighting and food stalls from 5.30pm to 11.30pm.
Live music performances, Zumba dance and training, and a women’s marathon were some of the many activities organised as part of the initiative.
India – a hugely patriarchal society – has faced criticism for the lack of safety experienced by women. In some parts of the country, women do not feel safe outside their homes after dark.
A 2018 survey of global experts on women’s issues by Thomson Reuters ranked India as the most dangerous country for women, citing a high risk of sexual violence.
Data from India’s National Crime Records Bureau in 2021 showed a 13 per cent increase of crimes against women recorded compared to the year before, and a 19 per cent rise in cases of rape.
The numbers show an average of 87 rape cases recorded every day in 2021.
“The earth and the sky, day and night, are equally owned by [women] as by me and you,” said Kuzhalnadan in a Facebook post on Friday (Oct 7).
“But the society in which we were born has taught us all that many things are forbidden for [women]. It’s high time for a change for all that.”
On Sunday, the final day of the campaign, Kuzhalnadan added that the Girls Night Out campaign received an extraordinary response.
“Many people and prominent personalities, including women, from the constituency and other places called to congratulate and express their support,” he said.
“This shows that the people of Kerala want a nightlife that women can also be a part of,” he added.
Hundreds of young women, as well as their families, came out to participate in the campaign, The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.
Talks were also held, in which women spoke about issues in the community such as lack of public toilet facilities and safe public transport.
This article was first published in Asia One . All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.