No city for women

Bengaluru’s women and girls have expressed deep distress over the insecurity and violence they face in public spaces. A survey of 3,000 women conducted by the NGO Save the Children reveals that 90% of Bengaluru’s women do not feel safe and fear daily sexual harassment, including lewd comments, inappropriate touching and other forms of sexual assault in public spaces. Over 86% said they feel unsafe using public transport when they are alone and 95% said their greatest fear in public spaces is of sexual abuse. Fear of sexual harassment isn’t confined to public spaces, however. Around 90% of women said they are harassed on social media, too. Worryingly, 83% of women said they do not discuss their fears of or actual abuse with their family members while 90% said they would not go to the police to report an incident of sexual violence. Once known to be far safer for women than other Indian cities and towns, Bengaluru’s regression to emerge amongst the most unsafe for women has been rapid over the past decade. Not a day goes by without the media reporting incidents of sexual violence against women and girls, including infants. And such assault and abuse is happening in cabs, at the work place and on streets, even at home.

The survey provides insights into not only the depth and spread of women’s apprehensions over sexual assault but also their reluctance to turn to family or police for help. While the former underscores the need for urgent steps to address women’s insecurity, the latter points to the need for change in institutions like the family, the police and the judiciary. Women surveyed said they do not turn to family members for help as that would result in more restrictions on their movement and lifestyle. Indian families are paternalistic in their outlook and patriarchy is deeply entrenched in the mindsets of both male and female family members. Many families keep women indoors or force them to cover up ostensibly to keep them ‘safe’. But such ‘safety’ provides little real security. Families need to empower girls, even as they bring up their boys to be more gender-sensitive.

Bengaluru Police has taken steps to enhance women’s security. Patrolling of streets has increased and a few all-women police stations and squads have been set up. However, more patrol cars, even if they are painted pink, or more police on the roads, even if they are women, will not make women safe if the mindset of police personnel is patriarchal. It is only when all police personnel, women and men, are trained to be gender-sensitive that crimes against women can be meaningfully combated.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry

Comments:

No city for women

0 comments

Write the first review for this !