Govt measures fail to allay Delhi's fears

Govt measures fail to allay Delhi's fears

Various steps taken by the government after the December 16 gang-rape in Delhi last year seem to have failed in instilling confidence among citizens about the safety of women.

This has been reflected in the latest Human Development Report (HDR) on Delhi, which says Most women in the National Capital Territory do not find themselves secure.

This feeling gets aggravated when they are in public spaces, including workplace or in a public transport vehicle. The Delhi Human Development Report 2013, sponsored by the Delhi government and released by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, reveals interesting facts about people’s perceptions of public safety.

For example, about 55 per cent of the people feel secure or very secure in areas where they stayed, that is, in their localities and immediate neighbourhoods.When they go to other parts of the city, they think they have become vulnerable.

“While most women did not feel safe in public spaces, the workplace and public transports emerged overall as spaces perceived to be the least safe for women. Women, children and senior citizens were found to be more vulnerable,” says the report. The authors of the report had conducted the Perceptions Survey 2013 immediately after the gang-rape in December 2012.

The survey confirms that a major part of the population in the city is in the grips of this overwhelming feeling of insecurity. Less than one-third of the respondents rated personal safety in Delhi as “good” or “very good”, and the feeling that crime has gone up over the years is very high. About 90 per cent of the people surveyed expressed it. What makes them feel vulnerable? The survey results make it abundantly clear that people not trusting the police is a major reason.

The survey found many respondents dissatisfied with the police in terms of the lack of both approachability and promptness of response displayed by policemen.

The survey reveals that the feeling of insecurity does not match the statistics of crime in the capital. “An assessment of public safety issues in the city shows that while official statistics do not peg Delhi high in crime rate, its citizens, especially women, perceive public spaces as unsafe,” says the report. However, it admits that the statistics do reveal a disturbing trend of increasing vulnerability of children from a safety perspective.

The report also points out inadequate attention to gender-sensitive urban planning. The survey highlights lack of services such as functional street lights and safe public toilets, especially in poorer settlements.

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