Eve teasing is a reality that refuses to die down on the streets of India, especially Delhi. The recent gang rape cases in the national capital – one of a 30 year old from Manipur who was working with a BPO – have revealed how secure women are in the metropolitan cities. Heinous crimes like rape, molestation, stalking and murder have become a regular news piece these days. These days, women do not feel safe even if they are venturing outside homes in the afternoon, forget about the scary nights!
Recently, two women in their early twenties were attacked with blades in North Delhi. Even acid attacks by strangers or jilted lovers have become common.
In the present scenario, it can be said that we might have become a liberal society over the past few years, but we have failed to secure the streets for women who still get teased or groped. Many working women stay in PGs or rented accommodations, either alone or with their friends. They leave their protective shell called family to make a living and to be financially independent. However, nowadays even the girls who stay with their families are not safe, especially when they step out of their homes to go to offices or colleges. Sometimes, even minor girls become soft target of the preying eyes.
In the past, there have been murder cases of Soumya Viswanathan, a leading news channel journalist, and Jigisha Ghosh, a call centre employee, both of whom became victims of the men who wander on roads in hunt of their prey.
So, the question arises: how safe are our roads for women? The trend is that most of the corporate and multinational companies have different shifts, including ones that end way past midnight. But considering the prevailing situation, women literally have to risk their lives while stepping out of homes to give shape to their career. Daily commuting from one corner of the city to another has become a nightmare.
These days, women also encounter harassment of other kinds – besides physical abuse and stalking, people create fake profiles on social networking websites, morph pictures etc.
But it should not mean that a woman feel vulnerable. Nor should the society look at her this way.
Women should take steps to protect themselves. They should keep away from strangers, especially those who appear to be following them. They should always keep helpline numbers handy and carry pepper-spray to counter an attacker. They should be alert while walking on roadsides and travelling in public transport, as these are the most vulnerable places where women face the highest risk of sexual harassment.
According to a survey conducted by an NGO, around 70% women avoid going to secluded places, 50% keep themselves away from crowded places, 44% avoid wearing certain kinds of clothes, and 40% fear going out alone after dark.
The government and its authorities need to step up security measures to ensure safety of women. Although, the government has provided the facility of women helpline numbers, help cells, PCR help etc. and even some private companies have anti-harassment cells, but the need is to spread awareness through regular campaigns.
In a welcome step, the Delhi Police recently announced that PCR vans would drop those women at their doorstep who feel unsafe and call up the police control room.
Cab drivers of BPOs and other companies are required to drop female employees right in front of their houses, something which is seldom followed. Stringent action should be taken against those who flout the rules.
On the whole, the society needs to change its outlook and inculcate values. Those who harass women need to be told in words and action that they won’t get away easily.
Till then, women would have to rely on themselves to ensure their safety in public spaces…