“I know this woman who drives to work in Noida from her home in Lajpat Nagar. Her shift gets over at about 7 a.m. and when she drives back, she disguises herself as a man because she feels that it is the only way that she can be safe,” said ASSOCHAM ladies’ league global chairperson Harbeen Arora while releasing a report titled “Women’s safety: reality check and recommendations” here on Tuesday.

She said she knew many more stories like this where women from all strata of society suffered from “survival anxiety” while explaining that the survey in Delhi covered nearly 10,000 women comprising working women, college students and housewives from the middle and upper economic social strata.

There was also a panel discussion on the reality of women’s safety in the Capital, especially against the assurances that several safety measures had been taken since the heinous gang-rape incident this past December.

Eminent fashion designer Ritu Beri talked about how women’s status in society had fallen from its ancient genesis where they were worshipped as mother and Goddess.She said that no number of laws, fast track courts and any other form of penal or preventive measures could ever be enough to keep a woman safe unless the men, who were in charge of ensuring their safety, change their mindset. “ I know of this unattractive girl who gets eve-teased every time she has to walk the road in a very posh colony right here in the Capital,” she said, asking all women in the audience to not let the men take them for granted and to fight for their rights.

“I met this teenage girl in front of the gates of our women’s organisation. She said she had seen me on TV and wanted to talk to me. When I asked her what she wanted, she said she had been gang-raped and that the police were refusing to register an FIR, provide her a medical examination according to the law or even listen to her. This is the reality,” said Go India Foundation chairperson Alka Lamba.

She said recent claims by a politician that rapes happen more in “India” and not so much in “Bharat” was completely false. “This girl was from ‘Bharat’; many girls like this are from ‘Bharat’ where a case cannot even be registered. In ‘India’ many empowered women at least get a case registered, if this was the case in ‘Bharat’ the rape statistics will be far higher.”

Education from an early age on gender sensitivity was recommended by Institute of Dalit Studies director Nidhi Sabharwal.The reality checks on women’s safety in the booklet point out that 90 per cent of women are sexually harassed at the workplace; almost every woman suffers verbal harassment at home and gender bias in society at large; and even well-educated women do not have complete awareness about their rights.

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