Change the name of 'Geri Route' to 'Azaadi Route'
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The Geri Route comprises of roads that surround Sectors 8, 9, 10, and 11, of Chandigarh. In recent times, it has become notorious for promoting a culture of misogyny and entitlement, disguised as fun, thereby leading to the creation of a 'Geri Culture' amongst youth.
In the words of novelist Amandeep Sandhu, who has described ‘geri’ in a viral FB post: “The term comes from ‘gera’, meaning the landlord going on horseback to survey fields. Calling it ‘geri’, the feminine, is to make it sound gentler. A sign of protection, ‘gera’ encapsulates the political economy of farms where owner has serfs from landed castes and many from landless. The landowner has now moved to cities, changed the steed from horses to SUVs, and you are very mistaken if you feel ‘geri’ means harmless men having some fun without harassing women. That is not how women feel.”
The current name therefore, legitimises and glorifies men teasing and harassing women, who pass by these roads. In the past, several cases of harassment have been reported, the latest being the stalking of 23 year-old Varnika Kundu by two men in an SUV. This led to widespread protests by citizens groups who organized the Bekhauf Azaadi March, demanding that the city be made safer for women at all times.
A strong call was made at the march to rename Geri Route to Azaadi (Freedom) Route - the route where the free spirit of Chandigarh - defined best by the women who fear none and nothing in their assertion of equality - flows. No, not the freedom to do as you please, not the freedom to violate the other or to go unchecked, but the freedom to walk without fear. Bekhauf.
A few days ago, city-based storyteller-educator, Deeptha Vivekanand started a facebook campaign to edit the name of the Route on the Google Maps app and urged fellow Chandigarhians to support this initiative by registering edits from their phones and computers. This petition is a follow-up to the on-going campaign.
This change on Google Maps will be a small yet, symbolic gesture in ensuring that this city remains beautiful in every way. And importantly, it will send a strong message that hooliganism does not hold a place in a modern, progressive city like Chandigarh.
We encourage you to sign this petition. Make it safe and secure for everyone.
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