Women Stage ‘Ramp Walk’ on Bhopal Potholes to Protest Road Conditions
A group of women from Bhopal staged a mock fashion show this weekend to protest against the broken, pothole-laden roads in their locality — after the usual means to draw attention to it, by filing complaints with authorities and appealing for repairs, failed.
“Because of the huge potholes on the roads, accidents are happening every day. Yet the roads are not being repaired. What are we paying taxes for?” one of the residents of the area told India Today.
Moreover, the ongoing monsoons have left the roads, which were already in a state of disrepair, waterlogged as well. This is generally known to pose significant threats to public health by serving as a breeding ground for malaria-and-dengue-causing mosquitos.
“Since our representations to authorities and elected representatives on lack of amenities have gone unheard, we organized this catwalk on the potholed and water-filled roads… If our problems are not addressed, we will not vote or pay taxes,” Anshu Gupta, who organized the protest, told reporters.
Given the coverage this “fashion show” received — both in the news and on social media — it appears the women were finally able to register their protest against the civic authorities, who had been ignoring their complaints.
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Unfortunately, despite systems to redress their grievances being in place, it is unfortunate that women had to go out of their way to design placards, holding which they cat-walked on a potholed road in sarees. While many held hands and walked to keep themselves from falling and hurting themselves, some did end up slipping and falling down — demonstrating how difficult it is to even take a short walk on potholed roads.
While this was certainly a unique tactic to get people to sit up and take notice, it’s not the first time fashion has been used as a form of protest. Fashion has played a role in important historical events from the French Revolution, to the women’s suffrage movement, the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S, to the transnational “Slut Walk” movement to end rape culture.
“[Fashion activism] merges popular styles of dress, from clothing and shoes to headwear and accessories, with efforts to implement social and political change beyond the designated channels of influence offered by the local political system,” Wikipedia explains.
However, unlike most of these historical examples, it wasn’t the attires donned by the women from Bhopal that garnered pubic attention, as much as their organized walk in fashionable clothes on the difficult-to-tread roads did, indicating yet another way fashion can be used to protest.