Saturday, July 28, 2007

Minutes of Meeting Held on 22.7.07

(compiled by Saptarshi)

Attendees were: --
1) Anuj Dasgupta

2) Dhruva Ghosh (new member)

3) Dibyajyoti Ghosh (new member)

4) Madhura Chakraborty (new member)

5) Saptarshi Chakraborty

The introductions were short. The attendees went through the Minutes of the last two meetings(7 and 14 July) once. Taking the points further, we came up with some ideas. These were:-

a) Photographing the molesters : Sunayana spoke to the Metro authorities. But they are reluctant to let us have a board near the ticket counter with pictures of the molesters as it might pose a security threat. But, like Sunayana rightly says 'the act of photography itself works as a deterrent'. For the time being, thus, we could post the pictures on the Blank Noise Blog.

Getting it to the newspapers will cost a fortune. We will have to wait until the project gains some popularity. Interventions will help us do that.

N.B. For now, we are trying to get some write-ups or articles on BNP in Newpapers(or Radio channels?). Anyone who can help us do that should please contact Saptarshi (94334 68166 | or Sunayana(

b) Bus skits : Discussions on this issue were not very conclusive. However, Anuj pointed out that the skits should involve the actors discussing about some incident of eve-teasing. The idea is to get other people to speak out on the issue. But, actually enacting an incident of eve-teasing might be risky for more than one reason. Even if the passengers find out that the event was staged and the actor is spared, it might tell wrongly up on the image of BNP. Specially, because people have no idea of what Blank Noise is really about.

c) Skits to schools : It was already decided in the first meeting (7th July) that it was too early to approach school authorities, who are bound to be skeptical. I (Saptarshi) suggested we could get some school kids to attend our meets at times. This will prepare the stage for the school-skits later. We request the members to bring along their school-going brothers, sisters, cousins(class VIII and above) to the meets when they can. Or talk to them on these issues, encourage them to discuss this with their friends, etc.

d) All male adda :

"The idea is to question the male attendees on what they have experienced when they have tried to stop molestation; on how they feel and act when they are walking with a female friend who is molested in their company.Our aim is to understand why more men don't step in"...(From 7th July)
But we realised that men who are attending Blank Noise meetings now, are probably those who are genuinely concerned and belong to the group Anuj refers to as 'The Converted'. And there is very little point in organizing an adda with these members. It would be like preaching to the converted. What we rather need now, is to get men, who hold opposing views to attend these meetings.

As to how this can be done, we had some rough ideas, but could not reach a conclusion. It struck us that if the men don't come to our meetings, we could go to them. We agreed that a weekly street skit would not be very difficult to do. This will consist of men from the streets asking questions on the issue and others replying to them. This will not only lead to a dialogue, but also keep the issue on the mind of the common man and get us some publicity. All we would need is a good amplifier with a microphone. Anuj also suggested we get some pamphlets with answers to some commonly used defenses(such as, provocative attire, etc)to be distributed at such skits.

More ideas on this topic are welcome and awaited.

e) Interventions : The first hurdle to a successful street intervention is that we need to increase our member strength. Numbers matter here. To do this we decided to start going to colleges with interactive question-answer sessions like the ones mentioned before. This will help us get more members quickly. We chalked out a rough order:
  • JU Arts Department : Near the 4th Gate.
  • JU Engineering Department : Near the Second Gate.
  • Presidency College

We will need help from the students of different colleges in this regard. If you think you can arrange for a skit in your college please contact us.

f) Street Sexual Harassment Stories : We agreed that more women should be encouraged to come up with their stories of Street Sexual Harassment. These, besides being published on the blog, could be printed in the pamphlets or even a Newsletter, if possible.

g) Blank Noise on the Streets of Kolkata for the first time :

We realised that in order to start answering questions in the street-skits, we need to know the usual questions and accusations. Dhruva rightly pointed out that although all kinds of men indulge in Street Sexual Harassment, their defenses are more or less limited and identical. And we need to find out these defenses and ideas before we start answering them. The best way to do this is to get onto the streets and see what the common man's ideas of eve-teasing, the inflicter and the victim are.

We came up with some questions. Keeping Priyanka's suggestion from the last week in mind, we thought that the Jagannath Dey incident will be a good ice-breaker for most. And Dhruva suggested we end it with a harmless and broad question. So after a lot of inputs from Madhura and Dibyajyoti and minutes of fiddling with the order, this was how the final questionnaire looked like:

  • You must have heard about the recent Jagannath Dey incident. Had you been in a similar situation what would you have done? Why?
  • Why do you think women hardly ever register a complaint with the police after such incidents?
  • If you heard that a woman in your locality has had to face Street Sexual Harassment, would you look at her somewhat differently? Why?
  • Do you think staring at a woman is bad? Where do you draw the line? How much is too much?
  • Do you think our streets are safe for women? Which parts of the city do you think are more unsafe?
  • What do you think should be done to make the streets safer for women?

After this we collected the following details of all interviewees:
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Relationship Status

We interviewed around 15 people from various socio-economic backgrounds. We had a hidden sound recorder to record all the conversations. The people we interviewed included :-

  • A Nepali Student, 20 year old, in a relationship
  • A Man, married, 48 year old from the suburbs (and somewhat poor economic background, but who works here in Kolkata)
  • A Couple, 21 year olds, College going, regulars at Someplace Else
  • A balloon seller, 24 year old
  • A very stylish guy, in dark glasses, single
  • Three female tourists (Caucasians) from California, US, in their 20s
  • Five engineering students, just out from Oly Pub (and hence speaking a lot. Male chauvinists)

Finally we briefed all of them about Blank Noise and how they could be a part of it too. Most of them said it was a very good effort. And promised to help spread the word.

I am currently trying to write down the conversations in detail. But as you will understand, it will take some time. Anyone interested in downloading the (.)WAV files (they are over a 100MB) may mail me for the same.

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