Published: 30th December 2019
These women walked through Kochi's streets breaking government's 'night walk' deadline
These women say that their goal was to send out a message that women can go out whenever they want
On the night of December 29, night owls of Kochi stared in surprise at a group of women walking through the streets at 2 am. There were around 15 of them, from different age groups. They joked around, clicked selfies and strode from Kaloor to Changanpuzha park and back to Kaloor, covering almost 10 km.
They say that the police patrolled with them for almost a kilometre, but for most of the journey, they were on their own. Now, these aren't the women who participated in the Kerala government's 'night walk'. The Kerala Women and Child Development Department had conducted a walk in 100 different places, from 11 pm to 1 am to commemorate Nirbhaya's seventh death anniversary. But the women that we are talking about here, thought that real freedom and change do not come with deadlines.
The idea of an alternate walk came up after journalist Shahina Nafeesa put up a Facebook post, asking women if they are ready to walk through the streets beyond the deadline set by the government. A lot of women were in support of the same. They coordinated through a WhatsApp group, met up around 12 am and began to walk. "The government's initiative seemed like a farce. They handpicked a number of women, got them to a specific location, bought them a cup of tea and sent them back. But if they (the government) really wanted the women to go out, they could have patrolled and let women walk wherever they wanted," says Sahla Kadambodan, a second-year LLB student in Ernakulam Law College. "So, I thought that it was a better idea to walk with these women," she says.
The group consisted of journalists, activists and a few others. Sahla was the only student in this group. "This was not a novel experience for me. I go out at night a lot usually. But, I loved the company this time. There were a lot of phenomenal women I respect. This time, a few people stared at us out of surprise, but no one said anything bad. The police just asked us a few questions, out of concern," she says.
But, are Kochi's roads safe for a woman to travel at night alone? Sahla says, "I observed that the streetlights get switched off after 1 am. If the government takes care of this and ensures proper police patrolling, Kochi's women could go wherever they want at any time." The group has also decided to conduct similar night meetups and walks in Kochi, with a mission to create safe spaces for women.