Post Dec 16, women`s security a key issue in Delhi polls
New Delhi: Eleven months post the gangrape of a paramedic student in a moving bus here, cries for safe city spaces continue to be heard with many citizens gearing up to vote for parties who have a substantial "plan of action" to address issues of women`s security.
Days after the December 16 incident, the Centre as well as Delhi Government had announced a series of measures to enhance security of women.
Suggestions were made to make public spaces safe for women and create an "all-inclusive" movement to battle the issue. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had promised to bring a plan of action to ensure safety of women in Delhi.
With polls around the corner in the national capital, several advocacy groups are of the view that weightage given to women`s security by political parties may indeed be a game changer.
"I think women`s security will be a crucial issue in the upcoming Delhi elections. People are unhappy with the state of women`s security in Delhi which is growing at a fast pace," says Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research.
"When political parties go all the way to garner votes from people then they must also be held accountable for women`s security in the city. It`s inaccurate to say there has been no change at all. But in the coming elections, political parties must focus on various forms of violence against women, rape is just one form," she said.
Similarly, Kalpana Vishwanathan, advisor, Jagori called for public awakening on the issue of women`s security, adding continuous push from the civil society is required to make women`s security a top priority.
According to the final tally of the Delhi Election Commission, there is a 7.44 per cent increase in the total number of female voters from as compared to 2012. Around 54 lakh women are eligible to vote in Delhi polls.
Subsequently, significant section of first time women voters spoke about failure of political class to strike a chord with the citizenry on working towards addressing the issue of women`s security. They felt the "malaise called rape" should not be treated only as an "administrative" concern.
Palak Bhatia, a localite in IIT Delhi doesn`t stay in college premises. After the day`s lectures, the final year engineering student goes back home but there are times when she is compelled to think about whether it`s a "safe" hour to return home or not.
"Many a times, while working on group projects with my batch mates, we do get late, which is when I have to stay in the hostel and not go back home. I want to live in a city where I do not fear travelling late in the night," she says, adding, women`s security will be of pivotal importance while she casts her vote.