“Women may be courageous and prepared to face the world, yet, that hint of fear does exist in her mind, not to forget the concern of her family” quotes Mehak Singh, an HR professional.
This is the unfortunate reality that she faces each time she steps out of her house. City women have time and again fallen victim to sordid crimes forcing us to question the road ahead with respect to women’s safety.
Interestingly, a recent report released by the ‘Save the Children’ NGO claims that ‘India’s richest girls and young women, aged 11 to 18, feel the least safe among all income groups in public spaces.’
The report “WINGS 2018: World of India’s Girls: A study on the perception of girls’ safety in public spaces” suggested that ‘across urban (47 per cent) and rural (40 percent) areas, young girls felt more susceptible to molestation or abuse while using public transport’ which was ‘true for girls from higher income groups (53 percent), belonging to the other backward classes (OBC) and general castes (45 percent).’
The study that was conducted in six states of India, aims to explore and understand how the perceptions of girls’ safety (or the lack of it) act as a barrier to these young girls accessing their basic rights and living productive lives.
Whether income groups can be linked to safety is a matter that can be debated but this certainly points to a rising rate of crime against women.
Mehak further adds, “I have been living in the city for 5 years now and I feel safe here but yet, whenever a report of some incident reaches my family, they worry and caution me.
This can be expected of them considering that Pune had a lot of recent incidents involving women and in public places. This certainly is a matter of serious concern while we are out out on the streets,” adds Singh.
For the record, Pune Police’s #CitySafe app was also introduced primarily to ensure women safety in Pune. Earlier, Buddy Cop for working women and Police Kaka for school and college students was also introduced and both have had reasonable success.
Shavi Paranjpe, chef says that the a lot of this happens in dim lit places like night clubs and cinema halls.
“Almost always, it is impossible to nab the person responsible for this act since it’s either dark or very crowded.
Not just people who roam drunk in some night clubs but at times there are others including the staff and others misbehaving with females.
Our city has several night clubs and hence is also vulnerable to such sick people who even follow you to your doorsteps at 3 in the morning. If you ask me, it is best is to run for your life than indulge in a fight with a person who is physically stronger than you.”
Speaking about women safety in public transport, Jaspreet Solanki, a city based IT professional says, that women are constant victims of abuse by many unruly people who take advantage of the jerky buses, trains and congested small seats in cabs and cars.
“I have seen men commenting on dress and often pouncing on women if they are in close proximity. And, there is no way that you can judge if it was intentional.
The lack of decency and discipline in buses and public transport is the cause of these incidents. It is no better in pool cabs where you can’t do much because you are already sitting so close to each other. Often the guy just derives pleasure from just the slightest touch” adds Japreet.
The Union Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways had earlier instructed RTOs across India to ensure installation of GPS and panic buttons in every commercial vehicle to improve safety of commuters.
For the record, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) is soon to install panic and stoppage buttons on 550 new buses by the end of the year to ensure safety of women commuters while travelling. These buttons will ensure that the bus stops at designated bus-stops however, a commuter has to give a reason to stop a bus by pressing the button at any other place.
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