On Their Own Terms

Jul 16 2013, 03:37 IST
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SummaryReacting to the oppression of women, five junior college students start the Meri Skirt Meri Marzi (MSMM) movement to sensitise society

A heated discussion in class convinced a group of five junior college students. They figured that change wouldn’t happen itself and that is how the Meri Skirt Meri Marzi (MSMM) movement began in 2012. There were no grand plans of becoming revolutionaries or getting into the limelight, but only the desire to react to what the group thought was gross injustice. Now with about 9,000 ‘likes’ on their Facebook page and public events such as protest march, freeze mob and slogan competition, this group of teenagers is leading a campaign for change.

“We refuse the present system of belief that a woman is raped because she ‘deserves’ it. We refuse to be told what to do and how to live or to live in fear. We are not people in high positions, neither are we politically motivated. We’re just students who want to bring, what can hopefully be called a change. We might be unsuccessful, but we refuse to remain passive,” says Smriti Bhoker, one of the founder members. The other members of the core group include Pallavi Khare, Leona Lakhar, Sagarika Bhandari and Shubhi Misra.

Lakhar shares that following an argument in class, they set up a Facebook page called Meri Skirt Meri Marzi in August 2012 to voice their opinions against society’s attitude towards women. Posting news highlights about cases of sexual assault and posters, they began drawing attention with a growing number of ‘likes’. Soon, messages of appreciation started pouring in. But when the Delhi gangrape was reported in December, the group decided that it was time to do more than just “sit behind a computer screen.” “So we set out to join Pune’s march for justice. For some reason, the organisers cancelled the event. However, we decided not to back out and landed at the location. To our surprise, around 100 people were already at the venue and it affirmed that it was indeed time for us to fight. We went there as supporters, but became the leaders,” says Khare, adding that they led the crowd throughout the two km walk. By the time they reached the finish point, there were 1,000 supporters in the rally.

In March, the group organised a freeze mob amid the hustle-bustle of MG Road where they stood motionless holding plea cards that screamed: “My clothes are not responsible for your inability to control yourself.” “It attracted a reasonable amount

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