DU Chaupal: Delhi Women Sick of All Govts’ Lip Service to Safety

DU Chaupal: Delhi Women Sick of All Govts’ Lip Service to Safety

Elections

Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar
Video Editor: Vishal Kumar

It has been nearly seven years since the horrific Nirbhaya gangrape brought a brutal spotlight the issue of women’s safety in India, especially in the national capital of Delhi.

As the union territory is all set to vote on 12 May in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, The Quint’s chaupal reaches Delhi University to find out if women’s safety is an election issue.

Is the University a Safer Space Than Delhi City?

Not for students studying in co-education campuses, says Somaya Gupta, who is pursuing Law in the university. While there is a perception that the university is a safer space, “the nature is extremely different,” she argues.

“There is everyday sexism, there is sexism inside the classrooms. There is sexual harassment, and there are, like, random people just staring at you.”
Somaya Gupta

For students like Vitti, who go to all-girls college, the university is actually a safe space, the way the rest of the city should be.

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“I am from an all-girls college. The fact that my experience is different from hers, being in a co-ed college environment, says a lot. For me, college is actually a safe space. It is actually everything she was talking about. But in Delhi, her co-ed atmosphere is the actual, real reflection of what Delhi is.”
Vitti, Student

How Would Students Rate AAP Govt?

The women students asserted that while there was a lot of chatter around the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) working for women’s safety, they felt the party has “made no difference.”

“In my locality, basic things such as street lights or presence of police is not there. These are very basic facilities that we do not have.”
Parul, Student

Women also said that lack of female representation was another important reason for the government’s dismal performance when it came to women’s safety.

“I definitely do think we need more representation. When we are talking about women’s issues, why is there no one to speak for us on our behalf? We’ve had years of men making laws for us. Why don’t we have more representation that can actually help?”
Sonal Gupta, Student

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‘Why Is It Our Responsibility to Defend Ourselves?’

Students echoed each other’s views, questioning the government's implication – with Delhi Police’s ‘self-defence’ classes for women – that the burden of safety should fall on women themselves.

“I really don’t understand why it is my responsibility to defend myself. Why are we being put in a situation or why do we have to live in a situation where safety is not ensured to a citizen or to any woman who decides to go out at night?”
Vaishnavi, Student

When asked if they used the ‘Himmat’ mobile application, launched by the Delhi Police and reintroduced several times since 2015, students said they have a problem with the app – starting with its name.

“The Himmat app, which is again a government initiative, why is the name of the app ‘Himmat’? Like the whole terminology goes to show that ‘I am a woman but more than that, my struggle is important’. ‘The more I have struggled, the more of a woman I am and the more respect I deserve’ – which I think is really messed up.”
Vitti, Student

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What About Parties’ Promises Ahead of Polls?

Dismissing the manifestos of the parties as an eyewash, students called for the government to start talking about changing people’s mindsets instead of making the same promises again and again.

“The government should actually talk to people about changing their mindset. No matter how many CCTVs you put, no matter how many street lights are put, the issue of women’s safety would only be resolved if the government stops using women’s safety in vain.”
Parul, Student
“Same promises they are making again and again. There are elections, we hear newer promises. We have new hope. But we are living in this reality where there is no difference. As a citizen, as a woman, I don’t see any difference at all. I don’t feel safer, let alone being safe.”
Vitti, Student

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