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Women Walk at Midnight: Stroll for liberation in streets of Delhi

This walk was among the many that they organise regularly so as to (leisurely) deconstruct the unsaid patriarchal rule stating women must avoid walking the streets alone at night.  

Published: 23rd November 2021 08:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd November 2021 08:22 AM   |  A+A-

Pictures from the walk organised by ‘Women Walk at Midnight’  from CR Park to Kalkaji.

Pictures from the walk organised by ‘Women Walk at Midnight’ from CR Park to Kalkaji.

Express News Service

In a rare sight, the Tandoori Chai ka Theka situated in Kalkaji was abuzz with a group of women who had stopped to take a break on Sunday night. The group—comprising over 30 women—was walking from Chittaranjan Park (CR Park) to Kalkaji at midnight, as part of an initiative by a collective from Delhi called ‘Women Walk at Midnight’. This walk was among the many that they organise regularly so as to (leisurely) deconstruct the unsaid patriarchal rule stating women must avoid walking the streets alone at night.  

STREETS ABUZZ
Commencing at 10:30 pm, the walk witnessed an overwhelming response, with over 30 women joining in from various parts of Delhi-NCR. Greetings were exchanged, rules laid out, and in a matter of minutes, the deserted and quiet streets of CR Park were bustling with women ready to reclaim the city spaces with every step. 

“It is a very interesting concept. I don’t know when was the last time that I was on the road at this hour. It is not the usual norm in a city that is not the safest,” said Yukti Bhagchandani who joined from Gurugram. As the walk progressed, anecdotes, stories, and fears were shared, and commonalities identified. “Why haven’t I done this before?” was a common statement that could be heard.

“It’s nice to walk around at night with people and see what the streets are like. I am glad that this is happening but I wish we could do this on a regular basis or spontaneously with friends and experience the sense of comfort that I feel right now,” said Grace MS (28), who joined the walk from Pitampura. 

Reclaiming spaces
Founded by Mallika Taneja, a theatre practitioner, the idea to walk at midnight struck her when she saw artist Maya Krishna Rao’s performance The Walk that was created in response to the December 2012 Nirbhaya case, which happened in Delhi. Interested in knowing about the “politics of walking”, Taneja decided to continue this as a regular activity. Over the years, they have organised about 35 walks in multiple Delhi localities such as Dwarka, Lajpat Nagar, Shahdara, Pitampura, among others. 

The idea is to explore regular neighborhoods with someone belonging to the area by charting out a route and walking along. After conducting several successful walks, Taneja is of the opinion that a lot needs to be done to actually make the streets of Delhi women-friendly spaces: “We have a very difficult relationship with the streets at night. It will take more years for this relationship to shift in this city.” 



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