• Women’s Safety is yet the biggest concern for girls in India

    Capital city data suggested that 2016 was the safest year for women in the past decade. All sorts of crimes against women like molestation, rape, eve-teasing, stalking, saw a dip. Quoting Delhi Police data, rape cases against women went down from 2199 (2015) to 2017 (2016). This has happened for the first time since 2008 when the rape numbers fell for the last time.

    No such news from other Indian cities having high crime rate against women such as Jodhpur, Bhopal, Gwalior, Nagpur, Durg-Bhilainagar.

    It is not a girls’ problem, it never was. It has always been the boys’ problem who have been taught to be chauvinistic and patriarchal.

    But data is just that, statistics. Because of the social stigma, many crimes don’t get reported at all. “If I start reporting eve-teasing, stalking or sexual harassment, I’ll have to visit the police station every week with a new complaint each time,” says Anchal Dahiya, a Delhi university student who used public transport to get to college. Public transport and roadside are the most common places where we observe a large number of these crimes happening.

    ALSO READ: Delhi women reclaim streets, seek freedom from sexual harassment

    Because crimes happen so often on the streets, this then brings us to bizarre justifications to the fact that fewer number of women are actually seen walking on the streets than men. This becomes another problem entirely.

    How tragic is it that women who report crime do so when it’s something ‘severe.’ Isn’t eve teasing pathetic? Why is it that we are not able to report such crimes? It’s so rampant. In a world where women travel all the time for work, business, leisure and more – these are dire issues. A traveller  in her mid-twenties, Reenita Sabharwal from Pune says, “just the fact that I expect an incident to happen while travelling solo makes me say that India is not safe and the thought of ‘how I will come back home late night even though my house is just 10 minutes away’ makes India not so safe for women in my view.”

    Growing up in a safe environment in India is a privilege really. Meet Zareen Qadri, a young student Mumbai who works with a marketing firm in her free time. “I’ll say I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in a safe environment. I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to be a part of the ‘privileged India’, and I say that because I go through the horror that news is today regarding women issues.”

    If I start reporting eve-teasing, stalking or sexual harassment, I’ll have to visit the police station every week with a new complaint each time – Anchal Dahiya

    Zareen adds, “I don’t think India is safe, or for that matter, most parts of the world. We as a human race are degrading ourselves instead of evolving into better beings. It is criminal that women have to worry about their safety while we make one half of the population.”

    From Bangalore, Lakshmi Sundaram says, “What I recently read about Bangalore, scared the crap out of me. I used to think this city was safe (well, not that dangerous) but thousands of unruly men mobbed the women in the streets, molested them on Saturday night while 1,500 policemen were patrolling in the proper areas of Bangalore. The New Year celebration turned out to be horrifying. And these incidents took place in Bangalore’s heart is a sign that the city is no less of Delhi. It’s equally damaged, reckless and out of control.”

    Delhi Women protest

    During a protest by Pinjra Tod against sexual harassment in Delhi

    The sense of freedom is a rather hollow term for women while we as a country attained it more than 60 years ago. According to Nishtha Bhasin who is studying in IMT Ghaziabad, it is the mindset of the people that needs to change more than bringing in combat forces or more surveillance, “In order to feel safe we need to feel free. When I am out in the nights no matter how much police is there I don’t feel safe as the stares I get is horrible. So more than anything it’s the mindset of the people that needs cleansing more than anything.”

    Every year so many women move from one state to another because of jobs, the ones coming from the safer state bear the most brunt because they don’t know how to cope with unsafe environment. Shweta, who recently shifted from Chennai to Delhi revealed how people asked her to stay cautious as Delhi is not safe for women. And that she should not stay out in the night. “Travelling at night was not such a big deal as it is in Delhi. I’ll take care of my safety but at the same time I cannot compromise on my freedom.”

    Indian Women protest

    Indian Women protest

    “I was once molested around seven in the evening when I was on my scooty and I was going for my tution classes. Two boys came on a bike from behind and pulled my top up and started laughing mockingly and yelling something about the colour of my underwear or something. It was winter time when this happened,” told us a girl who does not want to be named.

    She further said I could not do anything then because I got mind-numbingly scared.

    These are the kind of crimes that happen to especially young girls on a daily basis in all parts of the country. While we may come up with a hundred irrelevant solutions like dressing appropriately, not moving out late in the night, chowmien, confiscating mobile phones and what not. It is not a girls’ problem, it never was. It has always been the boys’ problem who have been taught to be chauvinistic and patriarchal.

    Picture credit- Campus Diaries