Maldivian women demanded safe public spaces on this year’s International Women’s Day by congregating for female-only events across the country.
Occupy Reygandu (Night) gathering took place Friday night in the capital Malé and the two southern cities of Fuvahmulah and Addu as well as in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
“It was great to see such energetic, involved and aware young women. Horrified to hear the stories and hope much more can be done for safe public spaces,” said former foreign minister Dunya Maumoon, who attended the get-together in Colombo.
“Occupy Reygandu was great. I didn’t have to be alert, I could just be in public. I almost didn’t want to leave. The only creepy thing that happened tonight was seeing dudes stand right outside just watching as if to remind us ‘the patriarchy is still waiting’,” an attendee tweeted.
In Malé, women gathered at the Sultan Park, where security was maintained by female police officers. There were music performances from female artists as women danced and enjoyed the night.
“Thank you for allowing my identity a safe space with all of you, to exist firstly, and to speak, unapologetically, as I am and no less,” one woman tweeted.
“Imagine being able to wear anything you wanted and not feel objectified. Dance without worrying about someone coming and groping you. Being able to talk openly without worrying about anything. What a good feeling,” echoed another woman.
Most street harassment victims – 89 percent – said they did not report incidents to the police.
Street harassment includes unwanted whistling, leering, persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after they’ve said no, sexual names, comments and demands, flashing and groping.
#OccupyReygandu was very successful. It was so amazing to be around so many women who inspired me in every way. I felt safe for once in my life and more confident. It was really nice to see women supporting each other and being able to open up about things without being judged. pic.twitter.com/Z0RTqVJ0LV
— 🌻Maleh (@Irahenburey) March 9, 2019
I am glad I went to the event. I wasn’t judged, harassed or slut shamed there. I have never felt so safe in my whole life and I knew, if ANY MAN bothered me or harassed me, there are several other women that will stand for me. I am happy I didn’t blow that away! #occupyreygandu
— kutyna (@kutyna3) March 9, 2019
In collaboration with @addunaturepark we finished off #occupyreygandu event successfully with a lot of experiences shared! A lot of untold stories were heard and a strong bond was built up! It was really nice to have you all with us tonight. Thankyou for everyone who joined us! pic.twitter.com/8jrL3uvw2b
— Jamia Musthafa (@JamiaMusthafa) March 9, 2019
We were told Y not men tonight, 1 of d mst beautiful things
bout #OccupyReygandu was it gav courage 2 some awesome women 2 come out nd share deir experiences of violence, harassment which dey wud nvr hav byn able 2 do due to d fear of nt being believed or judged..thank you all ❤️
— Aishath Ibahath (@AishathIbahath) March 9, 2019
— Eena (@Eena2308) March 8, 2019
— ᶜᵒᵘᶜʰ ᵖᵒᵗᵃᵗᵒ (@ShuuPotato) March 8, 2019
— Humay (@HumayAG) March 8, 2019
I had the most amazing discussions with @raremoon14 @paperclippenny @Irahenburey @ShaadhiI @LuaAhmed where we talked about so many issues women facing in the society. As a women I have never felt safer than ever at #OccupyReygandu !
Lets make everyday a women’s day!!♥️ pic.twitter.com/cUuwrjCd7n
— lilfathimaaaa (@fathimaissok) March 8, 2019
Tonight I was surrounded by the most inspiring, resilient, strong women that I have come across in my life and for the first time ever, I felt safe. So thank you to these wonderful, wonderful women. If we stick together, we can achieve ANYTHING!!! 💜🧡 #IWD #OccupyReygandu
— Naba (@NabaNaseer) March 8, 2019
— zyma (@fzyma) March 8, 2019
It's terrifying how many women echoed these sentiments and opened up to share horrifying realities of what it means to be women in Maldives. Here's to safety, security and tearing down the patriarchy! 💪🏾❤️💜 #OccupyReygandu https://t.co/vEWZrvDTk5
— Sara Naseem 🎈 (@sara_naseem) March 8, 2019
— Izana (@izzznzzz) March 8, 2019
— Rusha (@rushasharyf) March 8, 2019
— Nafla Ali Firag (@naflafirag) March 8, 2019
“Anhen kudhin thihenneh noolheyney” by @lonugadha (1/2)
— Yaniu (@biriyaniu) March 8, 2019
ޝިފްޓް ޑިއުޓީ އަށް
A woman's place is…everywhere#OccupyReygandu #IWD2019#BalanceforBetter #SDG5 #WomensDay pic.twitter.com/bze8kiRudS
— UNDP Maldives (@UNDPMaldives) March 8, 2019
For all the times we were told we can't do it, that we should rather stay home, we are at #OccupyReygandu. Visit our stall to know more about us, what we do, what we are offering, or just to chat. Hoping to see many amazing women tonight! pic.twitter.com/MZP4yB8HJe
— Women in Tech Maldives (@womenintechmv) March 8, 2019
— SHUNA ⚖️ (@ShunanaMariyam) March 8, 2019
We have 15 different pop-ups set up by amazing women entrepreneurs at our #OccupyReygandu event! Drop by for some food, crafts & accessories, and get more information on these women-led businesses and services!!!
— anhenun (@anhenun_) March 8, 2019
— Zara‘s Comics 🎈 (@zarascomics) March 8, 2019