Indian Women Are 'Loitering' At Night To Prove A Powerful Point

#WhyLoiter is helping Indian women make their cities more inclusive.

By day, the streets of Mumbai are filled with men and women going about their day -- working, shopping, exercising and socializing. But by night, the city is dominated by men.

This inequality -- the result of a local culture that makes streets feel unwelcoming to women at night, urging them to remain in their homes at late hours -- has prompted a mini-movement. It's called #WhyLoiter.

In a series called #HerRights that seeks to document both areas of progress and challenges facing the international women’s rights movement, PRI’s The World recently featured a group of young women who had launched a campaign to take back the streets of Mumbai.

PRI's Rhitu Chatterjee accompanied the women for one of their monthly midnight walks through a particularly conservative part of Mumbai. Though the walks are fun, they're "silent protests," too.

The goal, participant Neha Singh explained to Chatterjee, is to encourage Indian women not to feel afraid of exploring the cities they live in and to feel more confident about their place in public. Ultimately, the hope is that it will help force broader, societal change.

“People will start looking at women not as possessions or property that need to be kept at home and preserved or safeguarded, but as fellow human beings that have equal right to public spaces as men do,” Singh explained to PRI.

The movement, inspired by a book with the same title published in 2011, appears to be spreading. A similar effort is underway in Pakistan, where women and girls are using social media to reclaim space in typically male-dominated tea stalls, as BBC reported earlier this month.

The #HerRights series launched earlier this month in honor of the 20th anniversary of the UN's women's rights-focused Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Another recent story in the series features a group of female college students in New Delhi who are pushing back against their school’s curfew -- which is far stricter for women than it is for men.


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