I find myself wondering what sort of a larger impact has the Blank Noise campaign has had. According to the National Research Council, Blank Noise has empowered women to speak out against male aggression, and Ms Magazine explains the community building and sharing platform the campaign has created. The Blank Noise campaign has also expanded into other areas of India, including Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad. All of this seems to work towards the Blank Noise goal of altering social behavior.
But what about more concrete impact? Blank Noise has utilized what Keck and Sikkink have termed “leverage politics” by calling upon more powerful actors to enact change, and also “accountability politics” by challenging Indian laws intended to address the problem of eve-teasing. The campaign has targeted the Indian Penal Code Section 345 which addresses “outraging the modesty of a woman.” As Ashoka India (a network of leading social entrepreneurs) explains, Blank Noise takes issue with this law because it does not “recognize street sexual harassment as a serious, punishable offense.” Although sexual harassment is a crime in India, the wording of the law is ambiguous. Blank Noise has partnered with India’s lawyers and to pressure policymakers to address this serious issue. Although I haven’t found any specific lawyers or lawyers groups that have undoubtedly worked with Blank Noise, I will keep searching. However, I have come across a rather likely suspect – Law Resource India, the blog for a “national network for lawyers for rights and justice (NNLRJ),” which is a pro bono initiative compiling legal news and opinions for academics and researchers.’
The use of such leverage politics appears to have been at least somewhat effective. Most recently, the Indian government has sought to amend Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, making such sexual harassment crimes non-bailable offenses. Though perhaps this does not exactly call for celebration – according to the Hollaback! blog, which is a “movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology,” the amended law may actually serve to protect the supposed more modest upper class from society’s marginalized groups such as the poor or homeless, adding to class tensions and perhaps fueling a larger problem.