Preliminary report of the Women's Safety Audit conducted in Besant Nagar by Prajnya on November 29 as part of the 16 Days Campaign against Gender Violence .

The safety audit was carried out by a group of local residents living in Besant Nagar along with a small team from Prajnya in selected areas .

The safety audit is a tool used to understand whether a particular area is safe for women. The audit helps local residents assess their own areas from the point of view of infrastructure, roads and streets, lights, availability of public toilets, etc. The audit is based on the premise that a city safe for women is safe for everyone.

This area was chosen for a specific reason:

It is a residential area but with a well-used and busy public place (the beach).

The areas covered: 5th Avenue, 32nd, 33rd and 34th Cross Streets, Besant Nagar.

What they found: While the area is generally considered safe during the day, several inner streets are considered unsafe after dark, especially 32nd Cross street.

Lighting is a major concern:

The lights only come on at around 6.00 p.m., by which time it is already dark.

The only other source of lights from shops, who switch on their lights between 5.30pm and 5:45pm.

Several existing street lights do not function.

The light posts are so high that they are hidden by the trees. Therefore the light is very dim.

There have been a few incidents of chain snatching, all targeting women, in recent months both at night and day.

Several footpaths are not accessible for the disabled or those with prams.

There is a run-down Electricity Board building behind the Metro Water complex. The windows are broken and residents report seeing men gather, drink and use the place as a toilet.

A section of the playground on 34th Cross Street is cordoned off with tall aluminium sheets. There is virtually no lighting here, and this is definitely an unsafe area.

What they recommend:

In ‘winter' months, the lights need to come on earlier, at 5:30 p.m.at least.

The existing street lights need to be fixed and new ones added on some of the inner lanes.

The height of the light posts could be reduced, so that they offer better light and are not blocked by the trees.

Something should be done about the Electricity Board building: the windows re-fixed, the building cordoned off or security appointed.

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