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see my story
"Our bangaloREsident@Blank Noise,
Sabine Felber, launches a unique platform
for women in Bangalore through
see my story
with 4 short digital stories and
21 cooperative self-portraits.

The bold visual narratives are both
provocative and thought-provoking."

(Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore)


COOPERATIVE SELF-PORTRAITS AND TEXT

21 cooperative self-portraits of Indian women who reflect about security in the open public space.

DATE: 
July/August 2015

  • Muthu Lakshmi, 65 years, fruit seller

I go home about 9 or 10 in the evening.
Safety is a concern because it’s late at night. But I have to work till late.
And then I go back by this auto and I am worried about my safety
because nowadays they don’t discriminate between young and old.
And although I am an elderly lady I am still scared.

I have a heart problem. And I don‘t have sons but my two daughters look after me.
Thanks to that, I am able to run my life.

What I would ask for? I want a shop. I want a permanent structure where I can have a fruit stall.

  • Priyanka 19 years, design student at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology

Honestly I don’t feel that I am secure enough in Bangalore because the first day when I came here,
I heard a lot of people saying that Bangalore is not a safe city and
especially when it comes to Yelahanka it’s the scariest place in Bangalore.
I have had an experience:
I was walking down the road, it was 8 p.m., one bike with two men approached me.
They started whistling and eve-teasing. That actually got into me and currently I am really scared in Yelahanka.

As a woman in Bangalore I would ask for respect from people.
I feel if you can give a little respect, than it would be really easier for women to walk on the road randomly with a feeling of security.

  • Aditi, 24 years, change management consultant, writer

In terms of safety in open spaces, Bangalore is a great city.
There are a lot of open spaces, lot of gardens and I personal prefer those open spaces to any enclosed shops or malls.
As a woman I would probably prefer to walk in an open space and I feel fairly comfortable:
However, after dark or maybe after sunset I prefer to be accompanied by somebody here,
because the city tends to get deserted. But by and large, I feel very, very safe as a woman in all open spaces in Bangalore.

I would ask for more equality.
I think it‘s a fairly equal city but I come from Mumbai
and I am used to doing everything independently - be it walking on the streets or taking public transport.
In Bangalore, I am always approached by security guards and very concerned policemen,
especially when I‘m out at night, and it‘s expected that I have a companion or at least a male figure with me.
I find that very odd because I am not used to being dependent on somebody.
So what I would ask for is more acceptance of women doing things by themselves,
a single woman out wherever she wants to be.
And respect and acceptance of that person out there, regardless of the gender.

  • Amreen, 26 years, executive assistant

So basically it is travelling during the night. So you are in India and it’s taken as not safe for girls.
Regardless of any caste or religion. And then again, we are travelling alone.
For girls you can take along your friend or take along your sister or take along your brother,
it’s usually like that. We need to be dependent upon someone.

I think we girls should take care of ourselves.
It’s just that we need to change the mindset of the guys, not the girls.
So it’s always girls who are told: “Please take care of yourself”, “Please avoid this road or that road”, “Avoid traveling duringthe night”.
It should put in the mindset of the guys that they should take care of the girls.
We are their sisters. It’s not to automatically make us their sisters, but they should be concerned about how our lives are.
So they should understand that even they are human and even a girl is human.

I think these slogans and all these police they are putting on the road and saying “Please protect girls”,
instead of that, there should be equality among both men and women.
So that there should be no discrimination. That’s thefirst thing.

  • Anusha, 23 years, artist

As a woman in an open space usually my concerns start before I even leave the house.
It starts with “What am I wearing?”, “Where am I going?”, “Who am I going with?”,
“How am I going there?” like “Am I going by taxi?”, “Am I taking a bus?”, “Will there be other people around?”.
So my concern with security starts long before I leave the house.
And once I‘m outside, it’s like this constant paranoia, like something is going to happen to me.
I don‘t worry so much that someone is going to steal my bag or take my wallet or my phone,
I worry more that they are going to try to misbehave with me and put me in physical danger as such.

It kind of defines being a woman in Bangalore, ‘cause you have to worry about how you are going, where you are going and all those things.
Usually when you are just leaving the house, you should not have to worry about what you are wearing and things like that.

I would ask for a dialogue on women’s safety as well as public safety.
I would ask for safety in public transport more than anything else.
Whether I take a bus or whether I take an auto or whether I take a taxi or whether I’m walking,
the risk of being harmed is the same.
In general I would ask for the public transport system to be safer for women.

  • Sonali, 28 years, computer engineer

I am one of the luckiest persons in the world. That‘s what I think.
I have not experienced anything which led to insecurity.
It’s been eight years in Bangalore and I live alone here.
It’s always been nice and I often go to open spaces, like the park, or alone in buses.
I have not had any particularly bad experience. But sometimes when it’s late at the night
and I’m alone in a taxi, it’s my mind which makes me think: Oh, what if something goes wrong.
Something that we hear about in the media. Fortunately such a thing has never happened to me in reality,
but there is always this fear which is in the back of my mind.
I’m not sure if it’s created by society or the media, but it’s a fact.

As a woman in Bangalore in 2015 I see that Bangalore is already advancing towards IT.
There are so many women working in the IT companies and I belong to IT as well.
And I see that a woman achieves whatever she wants.There is no discrimination that is apparent.

Women have the same rights that men have.
But still I see that there is this topic going on about how the situation for women in Bangalore is.
And I think it’s the same as it is for every man.
The situation with respect for the city, traffic, money, earnings, or whatever, residences – it’s the same formen and women. I don‘t see any difference.
I think it’s fair enough that we are just fine in the year 2015.

And what I would ask for is: society should create less hype about women, women, women.
It doesn‘t make sense to me.

  • Zarine, 42 years, pomegranate seller

I come at 7 a.m. and leave at 3 p.m. I have no problems about safety.
But I am worried about my two college-going girls.
I worry about their safety. I have three daughters. I am old now. I don‘t get harassed.

But men are not good around here.
Nowadays they are raping little girls, little infants.
So what is happening to our society?
I ask for the safety of ourchildren in this country.

  • Kamya, 39 years, public space artist/urban designer

As a woman I mostly feel secure in open space, definitely during the day.
In open space I do feel a little bit insecure when it’s very late at night - more about mobility and being able to get from one place to the other safely.
There is a sense that beyond a certain time I have to have my extra eyes and extra antenna up.
I do feel a bit insecure at night - to be a woman alone.

As an artist working in public space, the act of working itself was performance so you were meant to be watched while you were working.
I did have eyes on me all the time. But they were eyes of curiosity I feel, more than anything else.
It was curiosity about me and about my work and it was less threatening - in my experience.

As a woman, what I would ask for is less aggression in the city as a whole.
Whether it’s just the aggression of horning your away through traffic or having to take the right turn before anybody else can.
It‘s just the aggression which comes with the city.
Everybody wants to be first and fastest and best.
It’s that aggression that I think if it just calms down a little bit,
it will even reflect in terms of women and security.

  • Yastika, 17 years, student at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology

In Bangalore when I am travelling - I am new to the city - alone or in a group I am always cautious.
I need to look around for people and when people look.
The place I come from, people are not really close-minded or orthodox about certain things.
But the very fact that people look at you on the road just because you’re laughing loudly or something,
those small things also make me feel insecure when I’m in a public space.

I would ask for more street lights. Darkness calls for crime.
Crime rates increase because of the darkness and streets really don‘t have enough lighting here.
And better transportation.
The auto rickshaw drivers, they rip you off and more often if they know you are not from here.
They never go by the meter.

Bus services aren’t very frequent
For me, I live near a bus stop, it is more convenient, but public transport is a little creepy.

  • Pushpa, 42 years, journalist, trainer

When I think of security in Bangalore, especially of women and girls and perhaps I would also say trans-people,
because they also face a lot of gender violence, I would not think it is great.
I have experienced a couple of times in my own neighbourhood, where we have lived for over 10 years,
small but kind of unforgettable incidents of people touching my back or following me.
I am a journalist who also does a lot of photography.
Twice at a protest against violence against women - silent demonstrations - when I was taking pictures of people assembled,
male photographers pushed me and even touched me unnecessarily.
And when I obviously fought back they said: “Behave like a woman”.
According to them, that means you should be shy and coy and silent.

I feel Bangalore, like many other towns and cities, familiar or unfamiliar, is not wonderfully safe
but perhaps better than places like Delhi, which is unfortunately not just the capital of India politically but also in gender crimes.

As a woman in Bangalore, I ask for respect.
Not just for my physical presence but also in terms of crossing boundaries like asking me questions or being suggestive.
Letting me have my space wherever.
Whether I‘m walking or working outside in a public area or in a bus. This is not just about safety and security.
It‘s also about feeling comfortable in a supposedly familiar environment.
So that you don‘t have to be on your guard always.
I ask for acceptance of me as another human being whose boundaries should be given proper respect.

  • Priya, 19 years, domestic worker

I am afraid to go outside because I am afraid of what I’m going to get from the public.
I’m afraid that somebodywould misbehave or I will meet some thieves.
I’m more afraid of thieves, the people who commit robbery and all.
Everybody tells me whenever I go out, someone will steal something right out of my hand.
In terms of safety as awoman I have never experienced anything bad till now.
But because of what the public says, I am afraid of people whenever I go out alone.

Recently I have not gone out anywhere.
Whenever I go out alone, I get a bit scared when someone passes by in a narrow lane when I am the only person or lady walking.
When some person comes I feel afraid.
I always have a companion to walk with me.

I ask that people should change.
The change will come from each and everyone.
Everybody should think: I should change.
And when people are good, I am fine to go out at any time.
But now even in the morning, I have no chance to go outside.
For the past three months I have been walking in the same place.
I will go maximum 500 metres, there is a shop, I go and buy things.
And I don‘t go alone. Somebody always accompanies me.

  • Maureen, principal of a high school

Do I feel secure in open spaces in Bangalore?
If I’m walking down the street or if I’m in the park, going for a walk - by and large I am not afraid. No.
I feel quite secure.
However at the same time I certainly would not get into any lonely corner on my own if I know that there are strangers somewhere around or a group of them.
Which is what I would do, if I was in New York or in the UK or in any other part of the world.

As a woman in Bangalore, what would I ask for?
For myself I am quite happy with things as they are.
But for other women I feel maybe if there could be more public transport
which is specifically for women or a little bit more care - more women police around, or more cameras around.
So that we don‘t have incidents of any women or girls facing a problem.

  • Jeevadas, 23 years, software engineer

I have heard about many issues where women’s security is questioned in Bangalore.
But in my personal experience, compared with other Indian cities, I can travel in Bangalore at any time without much tension.
But I always take precautions for my safety.
I always carry cardamom spray or small safety items with me during my journey.

What I would ask for?
For this I would like mention a quote I saw on Facebook:
“Mothers have to ask their sons to be decent in society, rather than advising their daughters to take care”.
Change should start from home.
Change should start from each person.
The government should take care of these safety issues with more concern.
Stop crime against women!!
Save them, respect them!!

  • Pushpamma, 35 years, waste collector

I am not concerned about safety.
And I am not worried about my daughters - they are safe.

What I would ask for?
We want more income because we are poor.
I earn Rs. 6500 every month.
And my husband drinks.

  • Usha, half a century and counting, professional nomad who has traversed many paths from corporate trainer, librarian, teacher, researcher, radio jockey, to anthropologist at large

When I think of my own security in the open public space, I think the nights are still a bit of a challenge.
And if I’m safe I consider myself lucky that I’m safe.
But there is always this worry that something might come up around the corner and surprise me in an unpleasant way.
So one is never really un-selfconscious when one is outside, whether it is walking or in an auto or bus or taking a cab.
There is always something that hovers in the background

What I would ask for as a woman in Bangalore this year:
First of all spaces that are friendly to women who want to walk through the city.
Spaces where you can walk happily and not worry, which are well lit.
That even at night, if you want to walk, you feel quite safe.
And just little more pleasant walking space.
That would be great.
It’s really important to be able to feel like you could walk everywhere.
This would be a tremendous thing.

  • Sanah, 18 years, student at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology

Being alone in an open space in Bangalore is kind of scary.
Because I am not only away from my family, I also don‘t really know anyone over there.
It’s scary to go outside because there was this one time I had gone out and three men on a bike they just slowed down next to me.
They were basically moving along at my pace. And at that point, I got so scared.
I froze. I did not know what to do. But in the end I just looked at them, like right in the eye, and they moved away.
But after that I‘ve been like extra cautious not to go out alone.

I would ask for a little more protection for the ladies.
At least after 7 o‘clock in the evening. Because that‘s when a lot of eve-teasing does take place.
I would really like policemen or women to kind of patrol these areas.
In the colony where I stay, the road to my apartment building is not entirely safe.
We have a lot of projects to do and a lot of places to go to get things and it usually becomes quite late when we come back.

So all I ask is a little bit more security and protection given to the ladies, or anyone really after 7 p.m.

  • Sunayana, 33 years, freelance writer, editor and theatre person, currently staying at home with my second child

I mostly feel fairly comfortable in public spaces.
Because I have spent many years of my life working with Blank Noise.
Blank Noise works by engaging in public spaces with people appear in person in public.
So what happened was, as I was constantly engaging with them and trying to communicate with them
and find ways to communicate with them, find planes on which they and I could meet - they stopped being so scary.
So now I know, if I need to, I can find ways to get sympathy from people who would otherwise scare me or make me defensive.
Like somebody who has been rude or hostile or angry, is just angry
and I know I can find a way to make him calm down and see my point of view - if I want to.
And just having those skills makes me much more confident in public spaces.
Also it helps being in a country which is mine.
I know the way people think and what brings sympathy from them.
I find for instance if I’m in a saree and have a baby and I’m very obviously a young mother then I can talk in certain ways and people will be very helpful, they just will!
I find that I can get them to give me the same kind of sympathy even if I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt and don’t have a baby,
just by putting on my young mother face and bringing on my young mother tones.
So this really helps, because I would not know how to do this in a strange country with strange people.

As a woman in Bangalore in the year 2015 I would ask for safer roads.
Not safe in the sense of street sexual harassment exactly but safer - I would like to know that I would not get run over!
I would like to have autos that take me home.
Better public transport, more reliable public transport, public transport that runs later.
Shops that stay open later. These things I feel make streets safe.
If people are around, streets are automatically safe. If only certain kinds of people are around
than safety is compromised.
Given the way that Bangalore works and that people are at work day and night,
it makes sense to work towards public safety by focusing on getting all kinds of people into all spaces and at all times.

  • Indu, 32 years, visual artist

My idea of being secure in an open space is quite limiting
because I always feel quite intimidated and at the same time threatened in lot of ways when I’m alone outside.
It could be walking on the road. It could be travelling in an auto, it could be anything.
The only space I feel very secure in is my house.
Because I can be myself. And not being myself in the outside...
I mean I would really like both to match - the inside and the outside.
But in this scenario it’s very hard in India for me to just dress the way I am. Just be myself.
Which is limiting and it won’t feel very safe.

What I would ask for as a woman in the year 2015 is this:
A request to people to be sensitive to the fact that everybody around also has to participate in making women feel safe.
It’s just not a self defence mechanism that women have to be very well adapted
but it has also to do with how people in society acknowledge and accept that.
Yes we also need to participate and eliminate that unsafe feeling
that women get when they walk out of their homes.

  • Sanah, 18 years, student at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology

In open spaces in Yelahanka, I feel independent
because there is no one to tell me where to go or what to do.
I feel insecure because I am in unfamiliar surroundings and environment,
with people I don’t know and I don’t speak their language well.

As a woman in Yelahanka,
I would ask from myself
that I can discover and explore my surroundings to feel more comfortable.
And from other people,
to be a little more sensitive to the differences.

  • Swarnima, 18 years, design student at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology

Staying in Bangalore, I feel like I am safe but still unsafe
because everywhere you go there are different kinds ofpeople.
And in India, it’s a big thing to dress in different ways and a lot of people judge you, based on what youwear.
Today I wear a long skirt which I think is pretty Indian, it covers everything, but I am still judged.
So I really think it’s safe but still unsafe.
It’s safe only if you go with the right kind of people or if the locality youre staying in is very safe.

As a woman in Bangalore, I expect to be respected for who I am.
For what I wear.
For what I say.
And for what I take a stand about.
I think every woman in Bangalore wants to be cherished, every woman in life wants to becherished.
So if you can respect and love us, that’s all we want.

  • Lakshmi, 23 years, student journalist

When I’m in open space in Bangalore, I am pretty secure.
It took me a while to be secure, to find myself and to be comfortable being who I am.
But I’m used to people looking at me weirdly because I dress differently and do things differently.
I don‘t want to consider that they think I am weird, because I accept it now.
Yeah, so I am pretty secure in open spaces.

What I want from Bangalore as a city is pretty much what it gives me already.
So I am pretty content.
The thing is: I haven’t lived anywhere else.
And I don’t know if my experience would be different.
But the way I am now is because I’ve been here for so long.
And I found myself being a part of the city, the city being a part of me.
I am pretty happy with our Bangalore at present.

The traffic and the noise and everything is its essence basically.
So I love it right now.