On a recent evening, a section of Bangalore street nicknamed “Rapist Lane” became an area for understanding, thanks to students at the nearby Srishti School of Art and Design and the grassroots group Blank Noise. They set up an experiment, titled “Talk to Me,” in which volunteer “Action Heroes” sat alone at five two-seater tables and invited passersby to join them for tea and conversation, after which the volunteer offered them a flower. The experiment, which has been done in other locations, was designed to “make the Rapist Lane, now the Safest Lane,” says Blank Noise founder Jasmeen Patheja.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Since the gang rape and subsequent death of a young student in New Delhi late last year, India has embarked on a number of creative ways to address the subject of sexual harassment. Blank Noise has been working on the problem since 2005, and has performed or organized a number of different activist acts. For some of the Srishti students who volunteered, the experience was eye-opening. After talking with one man who admitted to behaving improperly around women, one student said, “[T]he fact that I actually made him realize that his way of approaching won’t get him any girl…made me feel really good about myself.”