A vast majority of women feel unsafe in Delhi , according to a report released by the Centre for Equity and Inclusion (CEQUIN) here on Friday.
Addressing a press conference, CEQUIN co-founder Sara Pilot said sexual harassment and assaults on women in Delhi have become so common that it is generally condoned as a minor act of “eve teasing” and not a matter of grave concern: “The physical and psychological fall-out that such acts have on women and girls are rarely recognised. Their impact in terms of restricting a woman’s mobility and access to public spaces, thereby limiting her access to goods and services, has never been measured.”
“We will work with residents’ welfare associations, market associations and schools to break the stereotypes associated with women. At present we are working with the Delhi police to create gender sensitisation and refine training modules from the constable to the inspector,” added Ms. Pilot, who wants to involve all stakeholders in the endeavour to make the Capital a safe city for the fair sex ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year.
Ms. Pilot, who formed CEQUIN last year along with Lora Prabhu, has appointed cricketer Virender Sehwag as the organisation’s goodwill ambassador. “The IPL team Delhi Daredevils will be the face of the Make Delhi Safe for Women campaign. To affect a mindset change we will undertake public service messaging on radio and television, posters and hoardings featuring Sehwag and his team-mates.”
The report, based on a survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies, highlights the response of 630 respondents in the age group of 12-55 years living in the Capital. “Covering slums, educational institutions, metro railway stations, bus stops, market places and residential colonies, the survey points out that Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Karol Bagh and Rohini are among the most unsafe localities. Alarmingly, 82 per cent of women felt that the bus is the most unsafe mode of transport in Delhi,” said Ms. Pilot.
Stating that women cutting across age, class and caste barriers were commonly subjected to various degrees of harassment in public spaces, Ms. Pilot said: “What this implies is that freedom of mobility, speech and expression is not effectively applicable to half the population.”
She added, “ Women are unable to achieve their full capabilities due to social and cultural constraints which often create violent barriers, thus impeding their effective economic and political participation. Such a scenario has a direct impact on women and girls’ mobility. Their access to education and skills, health care, markets, livelihoods and recreation is curtailed due to safety concerns.”
CEQUIN has launched a campaign, “Make Delhi Safe for Women”, in partnership with the Delhi Government to facilitate a movement towards making the city safe for women. “While preparing ourselves to be better in terms of infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games, it becomes extremely important for us to work towards making Delhi safe for women,” said Ms. Prabhu, who along with Ms. Pilot was previously associated with the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
Narrating his childhood experience, Sehwag said that as a kid he would often see girls being teased while travelling in buses but could do little then. “However, now as ambassador of CEQUIN, I am committed to making the city a safe place for our womenfolk. Instead of putting the blame on the government and the police, we as citizens of this city should see to it that girls are safe everywhere,” he added.