Safety & Scooty in UP: 'Dressed Like a Man at Night to Ride a Two-Wheeler'

We spoke to women across age groups in Lucknow to understand the ground reality.


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A few months ago, 20-year-old Prachi Maurya, a student of Political Science at the Lucknow University, was tasked with picking up her father who was stranded on the road, a few kilometres away from their house.

She tied her hair in a bun and put on a cap. She wore an oversized shirt, and finally zipped past familiar roads on her two-wheeler.

“Uttar Pradesh is way behind other states when it comes to women safety. I had to dress like a boy to drive at midnight just so I can bring my father back home, that too in Lucknow,” says Maurya.

Prachi Maurya, 20, studies Political Science at Lucknow University.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

On 29 October 2021, Union Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that women in UP are so safe that they can ride their scooty at midnight, while wearing jewellery. The Quint spoke to women across age groups in Lucknow to understand the ground reality.


'Stay on Call, Share Live Location'

Sonia Rawat, 30, a guitar teacher in Lucknow, shares her phone’s live location with a friend, and also remains on call during any late night scooty rides in the city.

“I don’t feel very safe post 7 pm. I inform my family members where I am leaving from late evenings, and they calculate how much time it will take me to get home. If it takes longer than that, they are supposed to be alert, or on the lookout,” she says, on a balmy weekday afternoon in Lucknow hip pincode, Hazratganj.

For Afsana, 35, who works at a boutique, if she has to step out for any work post sunset, she prefers being accompanied by a man. “There are secluded parts of the city, and I feel so afraid crossing them alone. What if I am stopped? I drive as fast as I can. All governments promise safety of women but hardly deliver,” she says.

Meanwhile, for others like Neelesha Raj and Priya Singh—both 21 and students of Lucknow University—the ‘safe’ and ‘well-policed’ areas of the city are mapped out in their heads. “Our mothers insist we don’t get out at night but we go out. We know which places are safe, and which aren’t,” says Neelesha.

Neelesha Raj, 22, Economics student at Lucknow University.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)


It’s the same for MNC worker Jahanvi Singh. “Gomti Nagar, Hazratganj are safe at night, I come here at night often and have rarely faced any problems,” says Jahanvi, 22. She also has a list of places she won’t drive to alone at night.

'Why Should Boys Have All the Fun?'

For Jahanvi Sonkar, 19, the word “compromise” is quite the irritant. She hates being told to compromise, to not ride a two-wheeler at night, to not visit friends for late-night chai.

Jahanvi Sonkar, 19, College student

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

“My parents don’t allow me to go out post 8 pm due to ‘safety’ concerns. Girls and women are always expected to compromise, to sit at home. I love riding the two-wheeler, even I want to go out at midnight like the boys do, and not feel unsafe,” says Jahanvi, seated on a two-wheeler outside her grandmother’s residence in Lucknow’s Udaiganj

Her aunt, 52-year-old Meenakshi Sonkar, who learnt how to ride a two-wheeler a few years ago, says she can see a difference in the way women move around the city now. “I haven’t seen women wearing jewellery and riding a two-wheeler at midnight but there is a difference for sure. Earlier, men would follow and pass comments but that is not the case anymore. I see women stepping out at night, returning home post 10 pm,” she says.

Meenakshi Sonkar, 52, Homemaker

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)


Maurya, the 20-year-old Political Science student, says the conversation around mobility of women has to shift from their “need” to do so to their “wish” to do so. “Why do I have to justify stepping out at any hour of the day or night? Maybe I just want to go out, maybe I enjoy riding a two-wheeler and being out on the streets, the wind in my hair? Roads are for citizens. Aren’t we citizens?” she asks.

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