Work, Musings, Writings and Projects from FLEFF's Checkpoints Lab 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
The following is the best summary for the week by student Ashley Alicea:
While Mumbai is said to be a safe haven for women, this does not necessarily mean they have basic rights. The Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (PUKAR) have brought this issue up in a very unique light.
In Mumbai, women who loiter in public areas are frowned upon. They are seen as improper for being on the streets without a purpose. Many are, unfortunately, wrongly identified as prostitutes. These assumptions can lead them into dangerous situations.
There is also a stereotype around low-income men who loiter. Women buy into the stereotype that these men pose a threat to them if they were to be on the streets. Therefore, women avoid loitering even further.
There is even a stigma against loitering in general. While loitering is a leisure activity, many deem it improper while the city is priding itself on becoming a globalized and productive society.
PUKAR has brought these issues to light through an excellent and unique manner, a video game. In their game "Gendered Strategies for Loitering," PUKAR not only shows how hard it is for a woman to loiter and the problems that arise from one doing so, it also helps break down the barriers and assumptions that people in Mumbai have about public space. PUKAR's aim is not only to make the streets safe for women, they also believe that everyone, including low-income males, should have the right to walk the streets without being questioned or judged. As Shilpa Ranade, a PUKAR architect, said, "Only when men and women have the freedom to move about in public spaces without any purpose, can the boundaries and divisions within a society be removed."
The game has other benefits aside from bringing up issues about public space. The game also offers Mumbai woman a chance to experiment with loitering situations that they could not do in public, either because it is to dangerous or they are concerned about their social image.
PUKAR hopes that this game will present the issues and help the city progress to an inclusive place where citizens feel they belong.
Shilpa Phadke, Shilpa Ranade, and Sameera Khan, "Why Loiter? Radical Possibilities for Gendered Dissent", in Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia's Cities, ed. Melissa Butcher and Selvaraj Velayutham (London, UK: Routledge, 2009)
Andhra Pradesh, "Game on public space and women", March 11, 2009, (accessed January 23, 2011).
Gender & Space Group (Pukar), Gendered Strategies For Loitering (2008)