Blank Noise Meet

City of Action Heroes Meet # 1

Blank Noise Bangalore meets this sunday November 18th at noon in Cubbon Park. 

Make this the year of the Action Hero Pataka. Roll up your sleeves. Be there. It has been a while.
email asap to confirm exact location. blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com
event's on facebook too

Focus- Local Action Heroes
Building Action Hero Community in your locality.
{ local community _ address street sexual harassment }

*Bring along a potential new Action Hero could also be your neighbour
*snack/ water/ and a sheet to sit on
*ideas/ tools towards building community in locality
* (also hot bissi samosas guaranteed)

Share far wide and *locally too*

MEET UP 2011

+listen +chai +100% Action Hero-ism=

Watch this space for meet ups , event announcements, Blank Noise workshops and presentations in your city in 2011. To organize a meet up or to have us present at your workplace, college, city etc email in at blurtblanknoise at gmail


any city , town, place, country as long as it's outside!
>propose location and your wish list for the picnic!

Date: Feb 2nd. Wednesday
Are you in college? We're starting an Action Heroes College network.
We are meeting on Wednesday between 4 30- 6 30 pm. Location will be disclosed on confirmation. We will be meeting near Cunningham Road. To apply sign up here and if you have already applied just send in an email to subject titled BLANK NOISE ACTION HERO COLLEGE NETWORK

Date: Feb 6th. Sunday
Time 2 30 pm-5 30 pm


Date: Jan 23
Location: Central Park
who: everybody/ anybody
Time 2 30- 5pm

Date: Wednesday 19th
Who: college students only.
Time: 4 pm
Location: to be confirmed. email blurtblanknoise@gmail

(past meet)
Date: Jan 12
who: college students only.
time: 4 - 530 pm

Date: Jan 8th
who: everybody
time: 11 am- 1 pm

Workshop/ presentation
Date: Jan 4
Location: Mount Carmel College via Sichrem, Bangalore.

2011 and some immediate things-

2011 and the ACTION HERO is on duty.
make your city safe by walking your street fearless.
Happy New Year!

To new news and immediate action:

This year promises to be eventful and energetic. We're starting with a meeting in Bangalore on Jan 8th, Saturday at 10 45 am. Location will be disclosed upon confirmation. if you can make it, please confirm at the soonest + bring a potential action hero along! (your friend/ colleague/ neighbour/ family/ co traveler) please email us most definitely by the 7th of Jan to confirm.

Meet up in Delhi and Chandigarh on Jan 23-. If you'd like to be involved with organizing a meet up in your city do get in touch with us right away.

Upcoming events include an Action Heroes event across cities (Feb) and an all new internet event too (to be announced in a week).

A big thank you to all Action Heroes for sharing their stories with us on dealing with street sexual violence.Thank you Dianne Padma Nandini If you've got a story or a strategy on how you dealt with 'eve-teasing' you know where to send it .It doesn't have to be your story alone, it could be an urban legend, something you heard. This could also involve you speaking with women around you and gathering stories. (ask the women around you- grandma. cousins. friends. colleagues. domestic help.)

call for interns. time- 2 months/ or project specific. apply by Jan 30 internship. phase 1 of 2011 begins feb 10

apply to volunteer deadline for 2011 phase 1 is Jan 30

We often hear stories about a 3rd person being attacked for helping in an 'eve-teasing'/ street sexual violence situation. These reports perpetuate fear by emphasizing the personal risk in getting involved. We're not here to say it isn't a risk but surely there have been instances where a 3rd person's intervention has changed the scene.
This is a call for personal stories of how 'spectators' involvement made a difference.Have you been that third person who got involved? Have you got a story on how the spectator's involvement helped you? email your story subject titled THIS SPECTATOR CHANGED THE SCENE no later than Jan 30. blurtblanknoise at gmail com
(more details to follow)

Yours in spirit
Blank Noise Team


Action Heroes got together across cities in India on Dec 13 with a common script.
One Action Hero per city had access to the script for the meeting. We thought of sharing the script to give you a sense of what the meet- up was about! Please note that some of the dates mentioned below have extended until further annoucement. To get involved towards actualizing any of the ideas mentioned below- shout out at


Dec 13 2009
Location: Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Dehradun, Chennai, Bangalore, Guwahati, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Pune

(read out)
Objective of the meeting
1. to meet volunteers from the city- and form a team
2. to discuss street sexual harassment in your city
3. to focus on the next 4 months and propose strategies for next the plan of action
4. to assign duties and responsibility towards the next 4 months. month by month

Please give this to the person sitting on your right and ask him her to read out the next 5 lines in bold:

Warning: This script may make you feel a bit like being in a reality tv show.
You are requested to put your phone on silent.

We need to identify the following people in our group today
photo documenter- (add name)
time keeper-
person who writes minutes of the meeting-
person to write a report after the meet-

Each of you should identify a stranger outside of this bn meet, sharing your immediate public environment and maintain eye contact with the person.

Smile after you make eye contact and when you're done let's start this meeting!

(questions to read out- who did you smile at? why did you chose that person? was the person smiling back? was the person comfortable? was it an exchange? was it seen as threatening? did you smile at a child? did you
smile at a woman/ if you're female? or male if you're male? did you feel comfortable doing so? did you feel uncomfortable?) time keeper- 7 minutes

Please return the script to the person who arrived with it.

(read out) Hello!

We are never too sure of how many people actually turn up,
but we should be able to conduct this meeting with a minimum of 2 persons.
Any number is a good start!

The person reading the script has volunteered to do so. There is no one definite BN representative here, nor
is there one word or one definition to describe Blank Noise. Ofcourse there are long time members and action heroes
who have built the collective, therefore contributed in varying capacities. Yet Blank Noise is interpreted by each of us in different ways;
and we hope to arrive on that over this meet.

It may help to think of it this way " I am not here to see what BN is doing in this city, but rather what can I do? How can I be involved?
How can I make it happen? How can we work collectively? What can I commit? How can I commit to actualizing some of the ideas I propose?"

But before jumping at how you can 'get involved it would be important to answer:

Person with script has to answer question first and then identify another person
in the group to answer the question next.

Who are you? and What brings you here? What makes you want to address 'eve teasing?'
Please make this as personal as possible
please add if this is your first bn meet or if you're an existing action hero?
( about 5 minutes per person)

What are the words that come to your mind when we say street sexual harassment/ violence/ teasing/ intimidation?
(group spends 7.5 minutes in total)

2. About Blank Noise:

a. What does Blank Noise mean to you/ what are the words that come to your mind when we you say Blank Noise?
One person should write down list of words mentioned. Each person at the meet to answer-
(group spends 7.5 minutes in total)
This segment will be discussed and blogged about further- thank you for adding the words.

(read out)
b. Blank Noise is also:
a volunteer led collective committed to addressing the issue of street sexual harassment/ street sexual bullying/ 'eve teasing'/ intimidation/ violence
b. our focus has been on generating public discourse to what was once seen as a non-issue i.e. 'eve teasing'
c. a large part of our work has been on seeking definition of street sexual harassment. is there a common definition when harassment for one
is flirting for another? or if in some cases stalking is seen as a way of flirting?
c. the collective is built on lived experiences. We collect testimonials and then disperse them back in the public through various forms- thereby generating public debate
d. every volunteer is an action hero. he/ she drives the project, gives it shape. the collective has been built on this person's enthusiasm and commitment.
there is an exchange- it's not so much about only doing something about 'those' victims/ survivors, but about understanding your own relationship with the issue and therefore with blank noise.
( older action heroes can share their experiences of volunteering- personal account)
e. at blank noise we are here to address the issue- and we don't we don't want to do so by attacking a group or a party. our approach is sometimes more investigative and about open spaces for
discussion rather than always concluding one stand.
f. bn approaches 'eve teasing' as an issue that concerns men as much as it concerns women. we need to address notions of masculinity and male behaviour to take any discussion forward.

Blank Noise is not:
is not anti men- atleast 50 % on bn is male. we have started archiving responses from men at and will soon be announcing a call for project proposals.
is not only youth oriented- yes there are more youth linked with the project but that is because so far we have worked on the internet but we truly believe that 'eve teasing' and street sexual
violence is everyone's issue
is not about only one class of people- sometimes we get interpreted that way because of our choice of medium. our street actions and public interventions however break that idea

We are working towards a structure and hope to organize ourselves in a manner that allows us to work with volunteers from different communities and background and therefore kinds of media
appropriate to that community.


Hello person sitting opposite- please read the following out loud:

We need pen/ paper/ pencil for this

Please make a sketch of what you were wearing when you experienced street sexual harassment
for the guys- sketch a garment you think women would experience sexual harassment in.
unless you know someone who was wearing that particular garment- in which case sketch the garment you remember.
time (5 mins)

There are 4 letters in the group. 4 different people are to read them out loud.
12-15 minute discussion on the drawings each member has made and
group to share insights/ respond to each others drawings and experiences

suggested questions- What does it mean to say 'she asked for it'?

give the paper to the person sitting on your left.
please read out loud the text below

About I NEVER ASK FOR IT campaign:

'I never ask for it', will bring together garments worn by women when they experienced sexual harassment or were 'teased' via a public
installation. We intend to use the final installation to challenge the popular assumption that women 'ask for it' because of the clothes they wear.
The campaign seeks to address the notion of blame, shame and guilt that women experience besides being violated.

Over the next 3 months starting Jan every fortnight we will working towards a clothes collection drive.

We would like a clothes collection drive on Jan 9 ( date changed. will be announced soon)

Proposed plan of Action

Jan 9 : I NEVER ASK FOR IT clothes collection drive
who will collect clothes- everyone
how will each of you collect clothes?( ask friends/ family / develop your own strategies)
how will you collectively collect clothes? ( choose a location/ community/ college/ office)
decide on 2 venues- where you will collect clothes at for the next month
letters- i never ask for it- the letters you read out nee to be translated to the local language.
permissions etc


Please appoint the following persons-
event co ordinator:
event co ordinating team:

things to prepare at our end
kit- posters/ info

Please give the paper back to the person who arrived with the script:

Another immediate Plan of Action- 15 minutes
One of our all time fave actions involves being idle women.

Jan 2nd - (date changed. will be announced soon)
street action- on being idlestreet action- on being idle
This intervention is created simultaneously across cities in India. It based on the simple premise of being idle and 'without purpose' on the street. The event is announced on the blog and any one can participate, thereby becoming an Action Hero. The Action Hero challenges her comfort level and establishes herself as someone who belongs to city without apology. At some interventions Action Heroes are asked to come wearing clothes they have always wanted to wear but not worn because they felt they might be 'asking for it'. It becomes challenging for both the Action Hero to be there and not look preoccupied or anxious, but instead leaning back and doing nothing. It becomes challenging for the street to witness women relaxed, looking back and doing 'nothing'. Testimonials are privately dispersed in the form of letters to the public via which the public is invited to participate. Reactions vary from families joining in, to people tearing up the letter, or a row of men waiting for something to happen often walking up to an Action Hero and asking her why she is standing, whether is she waiting for someone? or if she wants a cigarette?

if someone has been part of the intervention before please share about the event

May we propose this action for Jan 2nd? It would kickstart a series of events for 2010 and would be an important event before the first clothes collection drive.
it is important that we try and have the events on the same day across the country. ofcourse smaller core team meets dont need to happen on the same day.

To build on the street action of being idle
1. name location + why
2. time + why
3. do not bring bags or anything you think 'protects' you
4. carry a whistle/ appoint one person to purchase whistle
why whistle? incase of emergency only.
5. letter- the team has to print letters/ photo copy letter and
6. TRANSLATE the letter to the local language/ languages of the city

The team should decide who will co ordinate the next event.
The co ordinator has to put together a team/ assign responsibilities towards materializing the next event
please note down all phone numbers
Before leaving the team should list all names. take each participants photos and make a list of skills people think they can bring to the table.
Prepare a list of colleges, schools, possible allies in your city. Maintain a city specific directory.

5 minutes- recap/ reflection/ any thoughts/ insights?


Script was prepared by Saptarshi Chakrabarty- super Action Hero and Jasmeen.

Meeting reports + photos are shared on this blogsite. ( links with the cities named below)
Action Heroes on facebook have added the meet photos to the Blank Noise community group:


Location: Lawns, Eat Street- Necklace Road
Hyderabad Action Heroes include- Samir, Ramya, Nandini
facilitator- Samir
report writer- Ramya
minutes of the meeting- Nandini

Ramya reports:

Slide show- With the help of a technically proficient person, a flash movie that creates awareness on staring/stalking/sexual harassment will be made. Prasad’s IMAX will be approached to screen the movie in the minutes preceding the movie shows. More theatres will be roped in later on
Women-centric organizations local to Hyderabad, such as Asmitha Foundation can be involved in setting up and a manning a helpline for counselling victims. Nandini will follow it up through the secretary of Asmitha Foundation.
To reach out to more women and document experiences, student communities in Hyderabad will be targeted. There is need to spread the word around educational institutions such as OU, NALSAR and others. This will be taken up as soon the political situation in AP improves
Sessions can be conducted in companies like Deloitte and others which have a significant number of female employees.
  1. BITSAA, the BITS Pilani Alumni network can be utilized. Ramya will look into publishing a piece about Blank Noise in the next issue of the BITSAA newsletter.
  2. Dr. Reddy’s Foundation will be contacted in order to figure out the best way to organize our activities, to get in touch with the right people and to obtain more support.
  3. Samir will put in a word with Rotary Club for the same purpose.

The Hyderabad leg of Blank Noise meetings witnessed a lower-than-expected turnout with only three members getting together to chalk out an agenda for the city this year. While Nalini Nagarajan and Ramya Kumar were first-timers to Blank Noise, Samir Gandhi, who has been involved with the Hyderabad chapter for three years now gave the other two an idea of how far Blank Noise has gotten in Hyderabad.

Since there were only three members were present, the reading-aloud of scripts and enactment of role plays gave way to an informal exchange of views about sexual harassment. The focus was on the approach that Hyderabad would require, keeping in mind cultural nuances and local perspectives. A decent variety of ideas were thrown up and recorded faithfully. Owing to the proximity to Christmas vacation and the atmosphere of uncertainty prevailing in Hyderabad campuses, they will be carried forward January onwards.


report prepared by Prabhleen Tuteja:

The meting commenced with a ‘stranger’, Mr.Viral Tyagi, approaching one of the BN members, Ms. Purba, trying to advice her on what she was wearing. The conversation with him revealed that the person was drunk (at a public place) and his had no control of his senses. After arguing with him for sometime, the group decided to ignore him.

The meeting formally was initiated by Purba who shared the Agenda with the volunteers present. There was a formal introduction that each of the volunteers were asked for sharing their experience of eve-teasing and street sexual harassment in the place they hail from.

Ridhima, one of the volunteers had a similar experience to share as that of Prabhleen as both hail from Raipur, Chhattisgarh. They shared that the local transport in Raipur is individual based as most people have their bikes and two –wheelers to their disposal. So, eve teasing becomes common, as there are instances when one is followed throughout the way to just make a comment or make the other person uncomfortable in the manner possible. There have been instances when the cloth wrapped around by a girl on her face is pulled out to open, making it utterly traumatic for her.

Varsha from Nagpur added to the conversation, by articulating her experience of eve teasing in the city. It was noted by her that one has to change ones dressing sense to feel a part of the larger society. She shared that it was the mentality of the people that makes all the difference.

It was Neeraj, from Chandigarh, who claimed that it was not the city per se, but the basic amenities that one is exposed to and the infrastructure or the lack of it that affects the mentality of people.

But, Varsha, had a different story all together of her friend from Kerela, who moved out of traditional barriers laid by the society on her sense of dressing. So for her it is that the more the society tries to suppress some one, the more the number of cases that emerge.

Swati, from Ghaziyabad, shared her nightmares when she used to travel in buses to college and the comments she had to bear. She said she remembered this one time when she was asked by this person who ‘advised’ her not to wear cut sleeves to tuitions as it attracts wrong attention.

There was a sudden shift in the session, when the group conversation highlighted the fact that the degree of acceptability varied from society to society. For instance in Rajasthan, a woman’s attire is entirely different and what is considered to be ‘revealing. Also another such case was that of rural Bengal, where a woman is not required to war a blouse underneath.

But, in Tamanna, another volunteer’s case, it was embarrassing for her when she wore a sports skirt to a Basketball Match and was called name thereafter based on her outfit.

But it was agreed by the group that it was not the attire that can justify eve teasing. Swati shared that recently when she was traveling by Metro, she noticed a girl who was ‘decently’ dressed in a t-shirt and denims, slapping a guy who had been staring at her for long thus making it uncomfortable for her.

Chandrashekar added that one of his friends was actually found staring at a woman wearing a ‘burkha’ with a ‘hijab’, with no possible scope of admiring her beauty except her eyes.

Tamanna said that she no longer smiles at people with the fear of being mistaken by them and has now been only seen frowning at others. In fact, even if someone appreciates your beauty, you really don’t know to take it positive or not.

It was to this that Ridhima added that genuine conversations are not possible these days.

The session thereafter proceeded to its next part where all the volunteers were given this exercise of staring at a stranger around and observing his/her reaction. After the exercise, there were a few questions that were asked to the members. Prabhleen said that the girl she was looking at seemed approachable and that she seemed comfortable as both understood that they might be familiar to each other. But, for Ridhima, the guy whom she stared got at first conscious and is now wondering what happened.

Swati said she avoided staring at the males around and instead shared a look with one of the middle-aged couples who gave a confused look as well.

The session moved to a discussion on the reason for all the volunteers to work with Blank Noise.

For Tamanna, it was because of the fact that she didn’t like the fact that she had to change from what she was because of other people’s habits.

Neeraj felt the need to address this issue urgently. Changing the mindset is what Neeraj wishes for and aims at.

Empowering women and transforming the society to a better place to live in, is what is Chandrashekhars’s view for which he is associated with Blank Noise.

For Prabhleen, it was the issue and the creative and pragmatic process adopted by Blank Noise that urged her to get associated with Blank Noise apart from her academic interest in social legislation and gender.

For Ridhima, it was the issue of gender that instigated her to work on related projects for a better understanding on the same.

Varsha’s idea of her association was to help her as eve-teasing was something that she had experienced many a times.

Swati shared her view with Varsha and said that the girls change their lives because of certain restrictions. It is time for a larger change in the society.

Purba, who has been associated with Blank Noise, said that the first thing that strikes her is that ‘I am never to be blamed’. She said that the it is all about empowering oneself and that is what Blank Noise is all about.

Kriti, how works in the field of education said that we all want to connect and should do so instead of segregating on the basis of gender. A girl’s choice of mobility gets restricted when it comes to her safety in the evening. For her, a balance has to create between the ‘Indian’ and the ‘Western’ culture and ideology that are coming up these days.

She was interrupted when a few members did not agree with the concept of ‘westernization’ of the ‘Indian culture’. It was Purba who gave the example of a saree that is considered traditional, but if not more at least equally revealing as that of any short shirts worn under ‘western influence’. Moreover, again it was not the dress that one needs to change.

For Kriti though, a change could only come if the males sit together and discuss about the issue and get educated on it. But, Purba and a few others consented that it was not the teaching that could bring about a change. Tamanna added that it should work this way, ‘It is my life, I am not affecting you, so don’t affect me’.

But, Kriti still felt that is way too much to romanticize the idea.

The session proceeded with members sharing words, terms etc. that come first in their mind when one thinks of eve teasing. The following words were included-

For Ridhima it was ‘Disgusting’.

For Prabhleen the first word that strikes her was ‘Mall’(in Hindi).

For Tamanna, it was ‘whistling’ and terms like ‘Chalti Kya’

For Swati it was the uncomfortable noises that the boys try and make.

For Neeraj it was ‘Gulab Jamun’ and ‘Jugaad’.

For Purba it was ‘pushy’ as some one was trying to intrude in her personal space.

The session also saw sharing of personal experiences by the members who faced street sexual harassment at all sort of places, during any time of the day and with any means of transportation, be it Jama Masjid, or the Chandini Chowk market that leads to it, or be it a richkshaw or an auto when is traveling from one location to another. There is nothing much that is safe.

Purba and Chandrashekhar also shred their involvement with the previous projects and their experience during the same. They encouraged the group to take action and decide on the venues where the coming interventions could be located. The following venues were decided-

North Campus, University of Delhi.


Sarojini NAgar.

Lajpat Nagar.

Lodhi Garden

South Extension Market.

For the event, it was Chandrashkehar who has volunteered top coordinate the entire process and designs the next intervention of Blank Noise. The next meeting of the group was decided to be the 2nd of January, 2010.

BN Bangalore Meet. Dec 13

Report prepared by Action Hero Naksha Errappa
photos: Apurva Mathad

The BN Bangalore meet started at 11.55 am at the Ulsoor Lake Cafe.
Attendees:Apurva ,Arpan,Farida,Manasa,Pratyush,Kunal,Naksha

"Smile at a Stranger " activity
Arpan:smiled at a man. the man felt weird and gave a 'half smile' back.

Pratyush:smiled at a man easily. then smiled at a lady who seemed to be searching for any association with him.

Manasa:smiled at a man who stared back.

Farida: felt easy smiling at an old man.

Naksha:SMiled at a woman who ave me the "who are you?" look.

Apurva:smiled at a man who averted his looks.


WHo are you? why are you here for this meeting?

Arpan:works as a software engineer at CISCO.
has followed our blog since a year.
has younger sisters in bombay . witness to an incident of harassment at work to a female colleague brought him here.

Kunal:with us since in Advertising industry
"every woman i know has experienced eveteasing (old/young)."

Pratyush:PG Student(Media),Coimbatore
Followed us since along time. finds it 'ununderstandable' that why is it comments are passed everytime he walks with girls?
witness to an incident at a mumbai pub where 2 girls and him were followed for a long time and finally the man came up and asked pratyush if he could talk to the 2 girls!
witness to anoher incident where young boys eve teased girls.

Manasa: christ college student.1st year
tols my mum to avoid certain areas. realised something has to be done. can't ignore or live with it anymore.

farida: works at ANZ bank.
finds it impossible to travel by public transport without being eve teased.

Apurva: works at google.
learned about "hollaback" .looked for similar organisations here and got involved with BN. impressed by the 'artistic' approach to activities at BN.Also feels activities that gain sudden momentum also lose steam soon.

Naksha: Student
Doesn't believe that "stop eveteasing, stop harassment" rallies will work. its a mindset we need to change and that ll only happen over a long period of time.

What BN means to you.

people wrote down thei views..

woman standing their ground
bn is a tree whose roots are giving life to several others
sharing collective experiences

what street sexual harassment means to you
buses trains
crowded place
uninvited stupid uncivilised immoral unaaceptable
whsitling,grinning,kissing sounds,rubbing,
anything a woman is not comfortable with

Discussions about and around the 4 stories
I would not walk into this cafe if i were alone.

if you are wearing western clothes "maybe you are okay with a lil bit of extra attention".

people in short skirts anyway travel in cars.

degree of attention you get in different places in different for different clothes. so... who drwars the lines, who sets the rules?

women are attacked only if men realise there are no REPERCUSIONS.

clothes are just a justification or an excuse people use as they don't understand the root of the problem or don't want to face it. we need to break this by our "I never ask for it" activity.

On a TV show on Bindass channel, a girl was made to feel so sorry because she was in a noodle strap dress.

Outcomes of the MEET

Some suggestions

>> "there is no Public Campaigns (by the goverment) on eve teasing. there are some on deomestic violence .
So why don't we use stories like the 4 we just discussed to create a campaign . enacting the story or something like that.We
could use youtube".

SOme decisions
Jan 2nd :smile event
Location :Majestic

note- we might need to move it to jan 3rd ,sunday

Jan 9th :Clothes project


How these 7 can contribute to BN besides being a part of events and activitites.

Pratush:Video/Audio editing if software is given to him.

Manasa:Conduct events in her college

Arpan:corporate interactions with Cisco

BN Chennai Meet Dec 13

Blank Noise Meet Report

Place:Gandhi Mandapam,Chennai

Date:Dec 13 2009

The Blank Noise volunteers met up this time in the green environs of Gandhi Mandapam.A apt place,since Blank Noise is a non-violent and peaceful means of protest against street sexual harassment,legally termed as 'eve-teasing'.

The first group task was to identify a stranger,make eye contact and smile at them. There was a lot of hesistancy, especially among the men as they didn't want to appear like perpetrators of street sexual harassment or disturb the many couples in the park. Vivek said the person he made eye contact with looked confused at first and then ignored them, Prithy and Kingsley both said that their 'subjects' looked confused and then smiled back, Sathya said the person looked around a bit to make sure the smile was directed at him and then smiled back, Vandhana and Katheeja smiled at the same person, who gave them a very vary look and moved away and Vivekanand said the immediate response he got was a smile and that it was probably because of his lovely daughter he had brought to the meet.

Shreesha and Radhika joined us a little later, after the first task.

The volunteers -Katheeja(the organiser),John Kingsley(photo documenter),Vivek(MOM documenter),Vandhana(report documenter),Prithi,Vivek,Satya,Radhika and Sirisha were from a diverse background and of varied ages.We introduced ourselves,and spoke on what brought us to Blank Noise.

Prithy, a PR manager said she chose Blank Noise because she was angry at all the people who let the perpetrators of the hook.

Radhika, a potter said she was tired of how society saw unmarried women as free game and 'available' and wanted to voice her protest.

Vandhana said she was here bacause she wanted public perception about 'eve teasing' to change.

Katheeja was there because she didn't want to be the helpless victim and she wanted to be a part of the process against it.

Sathya quoted an incident of how he was a spectator of street sexual harassement and couldn't help because the harasser told him it was none of his business since the woman didn't complain. He was in the meeting because he wanted to do something.

We all agreed on one thing,that 'Street sexual harassment was no way not acceptable'.And that we were looking to Blank Noise as a means to solve the problem.Also,it's the first time in the Chennai meets,that the participants were not all female ..horray Blank Noise guys!

Word Association - Blank Noise

silent scream


reclaim your spaces




Street Sexual HArassement


power play


crossed arms


faceless strangers



Next,we made of sketch of garments we were harassed in.The guys drew pictures of garments they thought women would be harssed in.Different viewpoints emerged.The guys felt that short,tight and transparent clothing would lead to harassment.We gals showed our pictures .. a couple of us had drawn loose,shapeless clothing,and some our school uniforms.

Harassment doesn't really stem due to the victim's clothing,it just stems from the attacker's peversions.

We also read out the letters of Blank Noise action heroes.

Shreesha said how her job as a journalist requires her to work and travel late and narrated that street harassement was very common experience for her. She spoke of her most frightening experience when a person on the road started following her in the night and came upto her apartment till the security posts allowed him to. Katheeja told the group an incident which occured when she was 13, when a man asked for directions and then showed her his penis. Radhika spoke of how some men brazenly stand in front of her house and stare at her when she is sweeping the portico and refuse to move, claiming that they were on the road. This led to the discussion of power dynamics in street harassment. Vivekanad told us about a colleague who was pursued by a man in a bike and how that led to an accident. She fortunately remembered his registration number and the cops were able to track him down. The case is still pending.

We decided we would split the tasks of translating them into Tamil amongst ourselves.

Radhika had to leave at this point. She said, 'To me Blank Noise is about breaking the silence and I'm glad I broke my silence today'.

We talked about the clothes drive ..where clothes which you were harassed in are being collected,as a part of the "I NEVER ASK FOR IT' campaign..We decided to collect clothes ..from our friends,family,domestic help and office.

We all exchanged id's,visiting cards and decided on a tentative meeting point. Vivek agreed to be the next meeting coordinator.We decided tentatively to have our meeting in the 1st weekend of the New Year. We exchanged warm goodbyes and went our own way.

BN Dehradun meet. Dec 13

Location: CCD, Rajpur Road
Action Heroes include: Dhruv Bhola, Priyam Bhargava, Aviral Singhal, Amit Das, Prabal Pandey

photo credit: Prabal Pandey
Time keeper- Amit Das
Report writer- Priyam Bhargava
Meeting minutes- Dhruv Bhola

Meeting started at 15:05 hours. Placards were placed to identify the members which were received with weird stares by the cafe workers(Don't worry were not going to start off a protest march against the formation of Telangana).Here's how the meeting went.

1505 : Priyam, the script reader read out the objective of the meeting. The following from our group were identified as

15 10: The meeting started off with it's first exercise. Volunteers attempted to make an eye contact with a complete stranger and smile after the contact was made.We had our opinions to share.

Dhruv- "I made eye contact with this man sitting near our table because he was an easy

target. Apparently he was wondering what we were upto so it made my task

easy. Unfortunately, my smile was exchanged by a weird look.Obviously ,he didn't

feel comfortable and neither did I."

Amit- "I too found the same target.However, I met with the same result.I guess he didn't

feel comfortable with the staring and the smiling as well but he never found it

threatening.I felt uncomfortable carrying out the exercise".

Prabal-"I had the same target.He was an easy target.He didn't smile back just had an

awkward look on his face.He didn't find it threatening, just uncomfortable. I felt


(Later on we realized that person was none other than Aviral who was looking for

the BN volunteers.

Priyam-"I made eye contact with a girl about 25 years of age but when I smiled she looked

away.So I really can't say how she felt about it.

15 18 : Priyam continued with the script.Volunteers were asked to introduce themselves and give

their opinions of eve teasing relating to any incidents they may have experienced or

heard of,

Priyam- Priyam works with an NGO called the Latika Roy Foundation for children and

young adults with special needs. Her concern apart from that of every girl related

to eveteasing was sexual abuse of people with disabilities too.

Prabal- A student of BTECH from UPES , Dehradun he is perturbed by the kind of

harassment that goes on in the streets which are faced by not only women but

men alike.

Amit- Amit is a Law student from Gujarat, he got really concerned by eveteasing

when one of his own close friends got very affected by it.

Dhruv- Dhruv is in the Merchant Navy. His views were that eve teasing has been a

common topic of discussion amongst the people. One can never finish reading the

newspaper without finding an article about rape, sexual harassment or

misbehaviour with girls. Starting with small steps to create an awareness among

the people can make a major difference.

Aviral- Aviral is studying law at the Dehradun Law College.From his personal experience,

He finds it quite appalling to see the crowded buses in Delhi. For ladies it has

always been a nightmare..Having worked in call centres he feels Delhi will

definitely top the list when it comes to sexual harrassment".

15 45 :What are the words that come to your mind when we say street sexual


The response was quite interesting.




15 51 : What does Blank Noise mean to you/what are the words that come to your mind when we

say Blank Noise?

Prabal - NO NOISE





15 55 : Everyone drew a garment they believe girls experienced harassment in(for the boys) and

what they have experienced harassment in or have seen others expeience sexual

harassment in(for the girls).The drawings had the following responses:-

Aviral's - Aviral drew a short dress with the words NUN printed on it.He sure has a keen

sense of observation.Short dresses are asking for trouble from frustrated

wolves.However, to contradict this if a woman feels hot why can't she wear short

clothes like men wear t-shirts and shorts.

Amit's- Amit believed that even if a girl is wearing something ethnic or even jeans and

tees she will get sexually harassed.

Prabal's- Prabal drew a chest printed t-shirt, skinny jeans and mini skirts.Short clothes

means bulging eyes and through the roof testosterone levels.Again, one can put

forward the point mentioned above but Prabal had his own views when he drew

those clothings.

Priyam's-Priyam drew a salwar kameez.She too had the same opinion as Amit that how

much a girl is covered doesn't make a difference,having seen a friend of hers

encounter a terrifying experience.

Dhruv's- Dhruv drew a short t-shirt and a mini skirt.

1605 : The letters were read and discussed.

We live in a world where it has been observed that the character of a female is not a matter

of concern at all.Some see them as a source of pleasure,that's it.However, even if a female

has chosen prostitution as her occupation or as a dancer in a bar, when she is off working

hours and goes to say watch a movie or shopping, people have no right to harass her. As

mentioned in the letters, women are citizens who have the right to go wherever they

choose to. Another interesting point noted was that MARITAL RAPE is not a crime in

India.One would think that education can curb the situation but what about Shiney

Ahuja? He is well educated, comes from a good family and

unfortunately married.


Event co-ordinator : Priyam Bhargava

Event co-ordinating team : Priyam,Aviral,Amit,Dhruv,Prabal


16 55 : The team decided to meet again on Friday, 18th December at 1700 hours, venue

Barista, Indira Nagar being a more convenient location for everyone. To recapitulate,

everyone was satisfied with the way things turned out. Although we were just 5 of us, it

didn't discourage us. Next meeting, we've promised to get atleast one more volunteer

each, hoping to get a positive outcome then also.

BN Bombay (Dec 13th)

BN Bombay Dec 13.
Location: Prithvi Cafe
photos by Manu

Meeting Action Heroes include Aparna, Pooja, Dharam, Manu, Mohnish, Neha, Nainy, Rizwan, Mithila, Somek, Ranjana, Koel, Santanagirl, Trushant, Shivanga, Satish

Shohini Sen reports:

The meeting started with a short introduction of all the volunteers which was followed by the smiling activity.

The smile-at-a-stranger activity turned out to be a different experience for all of us.

Most, like Mithila, Trushant and Somek were comfortable with the activity. However, responses varied from the person being smiled at looking back puzzled and even running away to saying a " hello" back. It was not viewed as being threatening by any of the volunteers.

What could be noticed where that women, especially when being smiled at by men, felt uncomfortable and did not respond back. Men were more forthcoming and smiled back. Some volunteers chose to challenge their comfort levels further and smiled at people from the "labour" classes. Many got a slight or controlled smile as strangers tried to decide if they were supposed to be polite or think they are freaks!!

I think this activity let us try to go beyond our comfort levels. Even if we could do it usually, we would have chosen someone from the same gender, but the explicit instruction to try and choose someone from the opposite sex made us try a bit harder. I think at the end of it most of us were more comfortable about holding eye contact with some one we do not know. Which is quite different from the way we usually behave.

Next we discussed why we were there. Personal experiences were shared.

Aparna spoke about an incident which had happened to her mom. Her mom had once been harassed as men hung used condoms on the train compartment to intimidate the female passengers. This incident came to us as disgusting and lowly. Yet, the mentality of the people came through easily.

Ranjana also felt that people become so accustomed to being teased on roads that they find nothing wrong with it. Dharam brought up this interesting view point that politicians have never addressed the issue, deeming it as too trivial. And thus, each of us have to talk about it in order to solve it.

Nainy's own experiences has taught her not to feel guilty any more. And that was repeated by most of the volunteers, which seemed to back up the Blank Noise ideology ( No one asks for it). Most of the female volunteers had faced harassment in public transport. And irrespective of which class, place or city they went in, women were always treated with that attitude.

What stood out was that men as well as women had risen their voices about the issue, either because they had faced it themselves or had seen someone face it. All of us wanted a solution and wanted to speak about it. Rizwan's experience just made it clearer that we often just become mute spectators, in spite of the guilt conscience afterwards. Being a spectator is probably just as bad as being a perpetrator and a collective effort is needed to identify and address it now.

An interesting facet was brought up by Somek and Satish. Violence happens inside closed walls. And unlike street harassment, where people can raise a voice, most victims do not speak against domestic violence.

What we could gather from the various experiences was that street sexual harassment can happen anywhere and anytime, irrespective of the gender of the victim. And unless it happens to someone close (or herself) no one takes interest. It is time for that mentality to change.

Next we went on to discuss what blank noise meant to us. A couple of interesting words/ phrases came up.

BN to us means:

motivation, silent revolution,suppression,hope,change, non-violence,women,power of silence,

change,speaking out,collective efforts,silent voice against a streaking noise,relatable,

initiative,platform, for the masses by the masses

One of the more interesting ones was how Koel interpreted it. "Blank" to her is the feeling or numbness you get when you are harassed and "noise" stands for the noise you need to make, or the fact that you need to protest.

Next we made sketches of the clothes we were wearing when we had faced eve teasing (the guys drew clothes that they feel any victim may have worn). Most of the sketches were of casual clothes, nothing revealing or overtly sexy. A normal salwar kameez, a kurta, jeans and t shirt and even a school uniform. The school uniform incident was shared by me, and Mohnish asked us to read on the Indian Penalty Law which talks about a 'good' touch and a 'bad' touch.

Manou made an interesting observation. He drew a sketch of a girl- complete with a cap and gloves and jacket. He said that a girl can be eve teased while wearing anything. Clothes have nothing to do with it. Neha also pointed out that sometimes girls themselves make other girls feel uncomfortable. The way women stare if someone wears a more"sexier" or "daring" dress, goes on to say they feel that " these girls are just asking for it". It is not true. No matter what we wear, it is our bodies, and as long as we don't harm anyone else, and feel comfortable in our clothes, why shouldn't we?

I also told them about a friend of mine who had told me to wear "subtler" clothes so as to not give men any reason to letch after me. My point is, why should we "adjust" ourselves, our clothes, our way of walking/ talking/ living just because a certain section of the society are frustrated enough to gape at us? Isn't it the supposed to be the other way around? Shouldn't they be asked to change their mentality, instead of us changing our habits? Yes, it does sound idealistic, but with time it just might be possible. The experienced BN volunteers (Mohnish and Manou) spoke about some of the strategies they had adopted earlier. Guys had been given wallet cards hat they distributed to people. Girls read out letters by victims standing on raised platforms. This helped them to gather attention and with this curiosity came awareness.

Four of us also read out four different letters, written by anonymous victims. Their experiences, though nothing extraordinary, reminded us exactly how much harassment we face on a day-to-day basis. The other people in the meeting place (Prithvi Cafe) were also listening though none of them came up and joined (as it is there wasn't any place left to sit..Nice turnout that we had)..

We spoke about the new drives BN will be arranging. The clothes collection drive was cheered by all of us. Three of the volunteers would look into the event in more detail (Somek is the event co-coordinator, Rizwan and Koel will look around for a place to exhibit the clothes as well as ask for necessary permissions). The probable places so far are Carter Road, Amphitheater where many such intellectual exhibits are held. Some of us may also visit colleges to attract the younger crowd.

The next event, to happen on January 2nd, is the idle woman campaign. However, many of the volunteers found some problems with this. The points they made were

#1) What is the point f doing nothing at all? How does it help the cause?

#2) Why should one do something which doesn't make her comfortable?

#3) Even if she does it that day (since she knows others are around), she would probably never repeat the action on her own.

What I felt was this exercise would again make us cross our private place, our areas of comfort. And if, maybe, we do it once and see that it is ok, we might repeat the incident again. Maybe doing nothing at all would help when people are in a bad mood, or even if they are in a good mood. It is after all about being comfortable and unapologetic for being who I am, how I am.


The whole meeting was a refreshing experience. I think none of us knew much about what to expect. And since it wasn't a huge NGO we could talk to each other personally. We could give our views, share our experiences. So in a way the size and informal atmosphere helped.

I think most of us came because we wanted to come. No one invited us or forced us to support this cause. We came cause we believed in it, cause we can relate to it. And thats why I'm sure all of us would like to be involved with the group for a long time. No matter how much we can contribute and in what way, we would feel better that we are doing our part (or some parts of our part at least).