INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY TODAY
Red Brigade takes guard against women tormentors on city streets
Priyangi Agarwal TNN
Lucknow: With a spurt in cases of sexual harassment and administration and police being blamed of inaction, city-based Red Brigade seems like a ray of hope. Formed by victims of sexual abuse, the 15 young vigilantes of Red Brigade fight for equality and humiliate anyone who misbehaves with a girl/woman in public.
Founded nearly two years ago, the Red Brigade comprise young girls from the 16-25 years age group. Apart from saving over 15 girls from attempt to rape, the group has taught a lesson to numerous road-side Romeos. When they move in their red and black attire, people refer to them as ‘Khatre Ki Ghanti’ (danger alert).
The 25-year-old leader of the brigade, Usha Vishwakarma, is a spirited woman. “Some years back, an 11-yearold girl I gave lessons to was raped by her uncle. A few months after the incident, one of my colleagues attempted to rape me. I fought back and managed to escape. It took a year to recover from the incident but I realised that every girl has the strength to protect herself,” said Vishwakarma, daughter of a carpenter.
She took the revolutionary step with the support of other girls of her locality in Madiaon and formed the Red Brigade. “It is the woman who bears the brunt in every case of sexual harassment. No one comes to her rescue and she gets hardly any help from administration or police,” said Vishwakarma. She adds that like her, other girls of the group too are victims of sexual abuse, hence they decided to take things in their hands.
Recalling a three months old incident, Afreen Khan, a 16-year-old member of the group, said she had gone to a nearby shop when eight boys playing cricket nearby passed lewd comments and one of them even touched her. “Since he had crossed the level of decency, I kicked him hard and he fell on the ground. I told them not to cross my path ever again and they all ran away,” said Afreen.Talking about why they chose red and black as their uniform, Laxmi, a member of the brigade said, “Red signifies danger and struggle while black denotes protest.” She added, “First, we try to resolve the matter peacefully, but if they do not listen or change their behaviour, we teach them a lesson in public.”
These power-puff girls have also started learning martial arts for self-defence. “We would be able to save women better after we are trained in martial art. We will also teach it to other girls of the city,” said Jyoti, another member. As they are giving it back to people who have misbehaved, the latter fabricated
several false cases against Usha Vishwakarma. Undeterred by the charges against her, she said, “Our aim is to create a team of Red brigade in every ward of the city by end of this year.”