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Global Student Stories: Indian students protest sexual harassment during Holi

Female students in the Indian city of Delhi are protesting harassment during the Hindu festival of Holi.

The festival, also known as the ‘festival of colour’, occurs across India, as well as parts of Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, every spring and the main celebration involves revellers throwing coloured powder and water at one another.

However, Delhi’s female students have spoken to the BBC about the harassment that they experience during the festival, revealing their fear of walking the streets because they could be hit with water balloons, mud, or eggs. One student even revealed that she has been hit with what appeared to be a balloon filled with semen.

A complaint against men who had been throwing balloons at women was filed to the Dehli Police, leading to police presence patrolling the area around campus.

Gurmehar Kaur, a student at Delhi University stated: “As you grow older, Holi becomes the time when you start realising that your body is an object. It’s really important to teach boys that if someone doesn’t want to play Holi with you, you cannot attack them with colours and balloons without their consent.”

Avantika Tewari, an alumna of Delhi University, stated: “There is rampant normalized everyday sexual harassment in the name of culture.”

She added: “Whenever you try to raise a demand of security on campus, the institutions impose more regulations on you.”

Furthermore, Janaki Abraham, a former student of Delhi University who is now a professor of Sociology at the institution, stated: “There’s been a long history of harassment around Holi” and commented that the reports of harassment gave her a: “Sense of déjà vu”.


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