Bengaluru Feminist group Hidden Pockets took on Brigade Road on New Year's 2018, and survived

Hidden Pocket Collective's, an initiative by Lawyer Jasmine Lovely George aims to help people explore unknown places in Bengaluru and are helping the community stand up for each other
A snap from the walk on December 31 2016
A snap from the walk on December 31 2016

No woman who spent her New Year in 2017 at Brigade Road, Bengaluru would ever want to go back there. Ever. Even now, three months into 2018, we still can't get over the cringe-worthy images of the mass molestation that happened at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2017. The streets were crowded and a number of women were molested and hurt. The incident left us questioning the safety of Namma Bengaluru and wondering if the community would ever recover.

But a few good samaritans in the city will always be close by to help their fellow residents. Though we believe this, these are not our words! These are the confident words of Aisha Lovely George, Executive Coordinator, Hidden Pockets Collective. And where does Aisha get all this confidence from? It's probably from walking the very same streets that have struck fear in the hearts of many, on December 31, 2017, witnessing the birth of 2018 with a few others. 

Hidden Pockets Collective is a two-year-old multimedia, Feminist project that explores the safety of women and their sexual and reproductive health, and was founded by Jasmine Lovely George, a lawyer. They also organise community walks through the well-known and uncommon pockets of the city to help people get to know their city better and to build a close relationship with the community. 


Looking back: Brigade Road on December 31, 2016

The idea of the New Year's walk on Brigade Road came up when a couple of research students approached Aisha. "These students were there on Brigade Road on that frightful night and they narrated what had happened to them. They witnessed people misbehaving with women. This made them feel unsafe in their own city," recalls Aisha. And it was this defining moment that pushed her to give the idea of community walks a shot.

Finally, on December 31, 2017, a group of 20 people ranging from young to old, set out to explore Brigade Road. "All of the participants wanted to see the city but didn't want to go alone. They wanted someone to be with them," says Aisha. They received many enquiries and when people got to know what they were doing, they joined the group. Most of them were college students.

As the walk progressed, people started getting comfortable. They stared at the sky and even sang songs. It wasn't a cakewalk, but it ultimately brought them to the conclusion that people will always help people. "People were helping each other. Even strangers stepped up to help each other. The community is standing up for its people," says Aisha. 

And this isn't all. To help residents know their city better, Hidden Pockets has a podcast, Own your City, where women narrate tales about their city. They also have another podcast, Pocket Shala, in Hindi and Kannada, where they talk about menstruation. And the reason behind all this? A better Bengaluru, of course.



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