The Delhi gang rape incident is still fresh in the minds of many. An intolerable mix of anger and helplessness is how I remember the incident.

A few days after that angel from the Delhi gang rape succumbed to her injuries, a friend informed me about a peace protest that was taking place here in Bombay. I was caught up with some work and was unable to make it. Regretting not being able to participate, I then thought I’d try something else to protest, to convey the message that a lot of Delhiites were trying to convey in the mind-numbing winter cold, and for days on end. Here’s what I came up with. These are posters that I made that night, and that were on my car for almost a month since, before my family asked me to take them off because they didn’t like the attention the car got when they were traveling with me.

Make India safe for women

Teach your sons to behave
Respect women

Sure it was initially a little awkward, with people staring at my car. But the cause and the purpose of it overshadowed the uncomfortable feeling quickly. And while I was doing what anyone at the peace-protest was, this way I could  protest for longer, and I got to cover more geographical area while driving around town.

Now, this brings me to another thought. Most of the heinous crimes are usually committed by illiterate men, but instances of household violence, eve-teasing and harassment at work, etc. tend to come from the literate, well-read and even the rich and famous. And if just posters could reform anyone, the world would have already been a lot better than it is. So, what I hoped to achieve by keeping the posters on long enough, was to have connected with like-minded people whom I could work with to find a workable solution to make India safe for women.

Now, with the posters gone, I’m essentially back at the drawing board with regard to figuring out a solution, but here are a few of the encouraging responses I got while the posters were still on:

  • I was at a company’s office to address their team. While driving out of their office building, the security guard there asked me what the posters conveyed; he then appreciated the messages and said I was doing a good thing
  • An employee at a very popular cafe, who was helping me park outside the cafe into a tight parking spot, was thrilled on reading the messages. He shook my hand vigorously while praising the messages with a ‘you’re doing the right thing’ look. I gulped at the unexpected but encouraging reaction, as I thanked him
  • A girl sitting in an adjoining taxi while I was waiting at a signal light looked pleased. She instantly sat up in her seat, almost magically pulled out a camera and took a snap
  • This one took the cake. I was stuck in peak traffic at a place where 7 roads merged at a circle  (with no signals functioning). I noticed a car zip from behind me to my right, dodge a car or two and manage to line up on my side. The driver pulled down the window, honked to draw my attention, pointed to the posters and gave me an encouraging ‘thumbs up’, before vanishing into the sea of traffic

People still care. We all care a lot about such a cause. Everyone cares about their wives, sisters, daughters and mothers. All we need, is to take some time, work together, to find a solution, and to implement it. We have to do it. No one else will.

If you feel you have workable ideas or suggestions to make our country (and other countries) safer, I’d love to hear from you. It’ll be even better if we could discuss (over coffee, via email or any which way that works for you) and see if we can come up with a workable & easily replicable solution. You can reach me at shrutinshetty@gmail.com, or on Twitter @shrutinshetty.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful and touching sand art by Hari Krishna in memory of the Angel who was the victim of the Delhi gang rape.