Two words one wouldn’t like to be familiar with, but a term that has recurred across newspapers, TV channels and everyday conversations after molestation incidents were reported in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve.
But cities don’t attack women on their own. The way in which a city is planned, the way it lives and the infrastructure it has; these factors contribute to how safe the city is for women to access public spaces.
The Quint decided to talk to diverse people who are an integral part of a city – urban planners, young women, activists and parents – and ask them one question.
“What is that one thing which you would change to make a city safer for women?”
1. ‘Cities Should be Full of Cultural Activities’
“Within a city, it is important that the spaces are heterogeneous and there are no gated communities. All the routes and public spaces should have natural surveillance, by that I mean have windows, balconies, kiosks and stalls. On-street parking shouldn’t be allowed and the city should be better lit up.”
2. ‘Infrastructure. And Better Public Transport’
“While one also needs to work on ideologies and attitudes, changing infrastructure can be transformative. At the top of this list is public transport, preferably 24/7 or as many hours as possible. Making it possible for people to commute in the city changes women's access to the city. One only has to think of Delhi pre- and post- metro to know this is true. Railway stations and bus stops need lots of seating and bright lights. During night hours, buses should stop in between bus stops on request so that women have to walk shorter distances to their destinations.”
3. ‘Educate Our Sons. Social Mindset Should Change’
“The mindset needs to change, you can have any number of policemen, but they also emerge from the same consciousness. People have to be made accountable as well, the legal system is clogged up and if you file a complaint, it takes years for any decision. We need the rule of law.”
4. ‘Eyes-On-The-Streets Makes It Easier To Ask For Help’
The most important is the change in social mindset of people, for example painting messages on the Mumbai railway stations. Awareness doesn’t always have to be in the form of a workshop. Stakeholders like police to intervene when the woman goes to them for help. Police know the law and they should register a complaint without judgement when the woman asks for it. To differentiate it from moral policing, only when the woman asks for a complaint to be registered.”
5. ‘Safer Transport Services’
“I remember when I was in Delhi, no one would take a cab. So, constant check on transport availability. A registry where misdemeanours could be lodged, or complaints lodged immediately without having to go to the police. Secondly, better lighting and footpaths. When you’re walking on a footpath, it is much more difficult to grab you. There is also need for flood lighting, more CCTV cameras and police manning the streets. A registry of Ola and Uber with a record of drivers with the government should also be maintained.”