Meet The Red Brigade: formed in November 2011 to fight back against a growing number of sexual attacks on women in the city of Lucknow, India
The male tormentor of the young women of the Madiyav slum did not spot the danger until it was too late. One moment he was taunting them with sexual suggestions and provocations; the next they had hold of his arms and legs and had hoisted him into the air.
Then the beating began. Some of the young women lightly used their fists, others took off their shoes and hit him with those. When it was over, they let him limp away to nurse his wounds, certain that he had learned an important lesson: don’t push your luck with the Red Brigade.
Named for their bright red outfits, the Red Brigade was formed in November 2011 as a self-defense group for young women suffering sexual abuse in the northern Indian city of Lucknow, 300 miles south-east of Delhi. Galvanised by the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi last December and the nationwide protests that followed against a rising tide of rapes, they are now gaining in confidence.
From a core membership of 15, ranging in age from 11 to 25, they now have more than 100 members with a simple message for the men who have made their lives a misery: they will no longer tolerate being groped, gawped at and worse. Their activities are a lesson in empowerment.
Men who fall foul of the Red Brigade can first expect a visit and a warning. Sometimes the Red Brigade will ask the police to get involved, but if all else fails they take matters into their own hands. Their leader, 25-year-old teacher Usha Vishwakarma, has her own experience of the daily danger faced by many young women in the country. She was just 18 when a fellow teacher tried to rape her. “He grabbed me and put his hands round me and tried to open my belt and trousers,” says Usha, sitting in the bare-brick front room of her small house. “But I was saved by my jeans because they were too tight for him to open, and that gave me a chance to fight, so I kicked him in the sensitive place and pushed him down and ran out of the door.”
No one at the school took her accusations seriously, telling her to forget it and stop causing trouble. The experience left her traumatized and for two years she did nothing. But little by little her confidence came back. In 2009 she set up her own small school for local girls in an outbuilding next to her family home. Yet all around her, she says, she saw more and more young women suffering the same abuse she had faced. And it was threatening to wreck the chances of her young female students.
“Parents were telling girls to stay in their homes so there would be no incidents. They said, ‘if you go to school, boys will be troubling you, so stay home and there will be no sexual violence’,” says Vishwakarma. “But we said no, and we decided to form a group to fight for ourselves. We decided we would not just complain; we would take a lead and fight for ourselves.” They bought red kameez (shirts) and black salwar (trousers) and began to plan the fightback. “We chose red because it means danger and black for protest,” says Vishwakarma.
There is much to fight back against. “It is in the minds of men that girls are objects and it has been like that always,” says Vishwakarma. “Religion shows women as very powerless and that whoever is strong can do anything.”
They have started martial arts training so that the men do not have a physical advantage over them. Pooja, Vishwakarma’s 18-year-old sister, laughs as she recalls the reaction of the boy they grabbed in the street when his taunts became too much. “We all stopped and turned round and we surrounded him and grabbed his arms and legs and he thought it was a joke, but we were not kidding and four of us lifted him in the air and the others started to hit him with their shoes and fists,” she says.
The rough justice the Red Brigade metes out might seem extreme to western sensibilities, but many Indian women are making it clear that they are no longer prepared to put up with endemic abuse. That much is clear from the crime figures: reports of molestation in Delhi are up 590% year on year and rape reports by 147%. The rape cases have hit tourist numbers, which were down 25% in the first three months of the year – 35% fewer women are travelling to India. The Red Brigade say sexual abuse is a part of daily life for young women like them. They all have stories of abuse, attempted rapes and daily harassment. “This is what happens in India,” says 16-year-old Laxmi, one of Vishwakarma’s lieutenants. “These things happen all the time. All of us know this, so don’t let anyone say otherwise. This is why we have formed the Red Brigade.”
Seventeen-year-old Preeti Verma nods in agreement. Her family are too poor to have a toilet in the house, so she has to go out into the fields, she says. Every time she went out, the man in the neighbouring house threw stones at her to try to scare her into jumping up. “He wanted to see my body,” she says. “I told him: ‘What are you doing? You are shameless, don’t you have a mother and sister in your house?’ But he replied that his mother is for his father, his sister is for her husband and that I was for him.” She told Vishwakarma, and the man received a visit from the Red Brigade and another from the police. She has had no trouble from him since.
“We’ve caught a lot of men recently,” says 17-year-old Sufia Hashmi. “I joined up because men always used to pass comments on me and touch my body, but now we beat them the men cannot do anything and they run away. You feel powerful and you feel good.”
On the way back to the slum, the rickshaws pass a public park and for a moment these tough young women show themselves for what they really are – children forced to grow up fast. They beg and plead to stop. “Please, please,” they say, their eyes gleaming in excitement. Shrieking gleefully, they race off towards the swings, slides and roundabouts. Later they stroll back through the market, eating ice-creams, heading for their homes. The sun is low in the sky, the shadows long. The men watch sullenly as they pass. No one risks a word.
Saw this on Al Jazeera this morning. I’m sure it’s gone around Tumblr in some form before.
today is brought to you by the word :
what ur average tragedy looks like after 100 years
Clubs don’t ge raided because of blowjobs, clubs get raided because law enforcement wants to punish people in the sex industry – especially lower-income workers. They look like they’re “cleaning up the community” and the county gets to fine the club, the amount of which is probably water off a ducks back for ownership anyway. The women charged with prostitution? Once they have a record, their options for earning an income are severely constrained – possibly pushing them deeper into sex work.
Police are the problem. Criminalization is the problem. NOT fellow working women.
|—||Another insightful comment on extras, stripping, and criminalization from Evie (via marginalutilite)|
does england exist to make every other country look stupid
all but one
yea, america can do it by itself
It started with a report to the state’s Office of the Child Advocate that a child had been expelled from preschool.
Jamey Bell, the child advocate, saw no reason why a child that young should be suspended, and wanted to know how widespread the problem was. She also had learned that a 7-year-old had been arrested while at school.
She would soon find out that at least 1,967 students age 6 and under were suspended last school year — almost all of them black or Hispanic. According to a report from the Connecticut Department of Education, the number of students suspended is actually higher, but privacy issues restrict the state agency from releasing information that could identify unique student information.
“That’s a lot of kids… I do not think that [suspension] is an appropriate response” to students behaving poorly at school, Bell said. Excluding such young children from the classroom ”seems to me a non-educational, non-therapeutic response for those who are way too young to be culpable.”
The leader of the state’s child protection agency, Joette Katz, agrees.
“I was shocked” by the statistic, the Department of Child and Families commissioner told a roomful of people at the state Capitol complex Friday. “Clearly when children are being suspended, something else is not being attended to.”
Officials say that bad behavior of children this young is most often a symptom of something else they experienced in their life
what the batter was really thinking
Pardon me while I draw these fine fellows like some of my French girls.
SHARE TO SAVE TUMBLR!
- Let’s try and get 100k notes
A review by one of the folks sums it up perfectly:
“What worries me about Yahoo! buying Tumblr is how it would choose to incorporate the website into its email and homepage features. One of the reasons why Tumblr is so unique is because it’s a niche market. By adding more users who don’t fit into this niche, it would make it more difficult for communities to develop within Tumblr, and Tumblr would have to change to accommodate these new users. Tumblr as a website is not the kind that you can sign up for in a day and be on your way. It is a website crafted so that you can immediately post but must spend several weeks, sometimes even months, to build a community. With new users who would not be willing to spend time growing a community, Tumblr would have to be changed, which would alienate its current users. Those users have spent time and effort to make Tumblr what it is today, and they are the ones who spend time on the website daily. A user who is checking onto Tumblr because it’s attached to their homepage is not going to be as strong of a user nor as dedicated. By changing the website to suit this new user, you would lose the strong users while building an undedicated usership.
To any website that would think of buying Tumblr, they must understand that it is a website that cannot be changed to make it more user friendly to a casual blogger. I think that many Tumblr users would be less worried about a buy-out if they were promised that their communities and ways of using Tumblr would not be changed. No one is going to mind Yahoo! buying the website and gaining a few extra million dollars per year from the minimal advertising; what we will be upset with is if a company like Yahoo! then changes the website to increase casual users and decrease dedicated users. Yahoo! would gain nothing by losing this “cool” group of bloggers in an age group they so desperately want to reach, so they must cater to these individuals by leaving the website exactly as is.” - houseoftombombadilAs much as is does sound like a load of bullshit for someone to buy Tumblr, it’s a possibility. I Personally think it should stay independent and I hope David Karp keeps a hold of it like his own child. Or we make enough noise to where such major changes (if bought) will not happen. I would hate to see Tumblr turned into an advertising dump.We’re not a ‘hip fad group’ to be marketed to. I hate the fact that’s all we look like to businesses in the end.
reblogging again for this ^