Women share pictures of themselves at roadside food stalls in South Asia

The Karachi dhaba gang

The Karachi dhaba gang Photo: @girlsatdhabas

A roadside food stall might seem like an innocuous place to make a political statement. Yet, in many parts of the world, being alone in a public space as a woman is uncommon and significant. 

It's these food and drink stalls, called dhabas, women in South Asia are attempting to reclaim as safe for women, posting pictures of themselves with the hashtag #GirlsAtDhabas. 

The movement, which now has a tumblr to curate photos, was started by Sadia Khatri, an astronomy and journalism student who lives in Karachi in Pakistan. 

http://girlsatdhabas.tumblr.com/post/125931036234/murthal-dhaba-delhi-chandigarh-highway
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"The idea was to reappear on the streets," she told BuzzFeed in an email. "We'd like to see more women on the streets and in spaces we are not traditionally thought to occupy."

She hopes other women will be encouraged to frequent dhabas if they know they are not alone.

"Women aren't supposed to loiter," she said. "It just isn't something we think we can do, and when/if someone does, it makes people uncomfortable. There is also the aspect of safety, and we emphasise on safety first, but there are ways to manage that. Go in a crowd, go in a familiar area, don't stand out."

http://girlsatdhabas.tumblr.com/post/120375726779

Khatri helps this small but significant statement will help feminist discussion evolve into tangible structural and cultural changes.

"We can't end patriarchy and capitalism overnight, but we can make dents, even if within our small, niche circles."