IT is almost 10 years when I came to Delhi. Looking back i ask, has Delhi been kind and supportive? Yes. But is it safe enough? No.
My rendevouz with Delhi started in 2007, when I joined Delhi University as a student. I was new to Delhi and had high hopes from the city. Growing up with the phrase ‘Dilli abhi dur hai’, I was ecstatic when I stepped foot in the city, but my perception changed as soon as I boarded Delhi buses. Travelling between Delhi University North Campus and Lady Shri Ram College in Amar Colony back then was nothing less than a nightmare.
I was soon exposed to its darkest side. I was groped, violated and inappropriately touched in Delhi buses, not once but many times. Furious and devastated, I had even tried to slap one of the perpetrators. The m o l e s ter looked so decent that it took me a while to come in terms with that ‘decent-looking’ man, can be a culprit.
This is 2017. Ten years hence, and nothing much has changed. Many women went through the same experience in Delhi Metro, the so-called ‘lifeline of the capital’. Few months later, we got exclusive coaches for us. It was projected as a brilliant step for women safety but again, socialists feel this reinforces the idea of men being entitled to the majority of public space.
So, how fair is it? Haven’t they already taken majority of the space in our country? And we ladies have to be contented with ‘only ladies’ coaches to avoid getting groped or feel humiliated. And most of the time we wear it as a badge of shame and are forced to be apologetic about our dress our manners our movement and our timings.
Delhi emerged as the infamous ‘rape capital’ of our country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 34,651 rape cases were reported in India in 2015, and of these, 17,104 cases were from Delhi alone. The numbers are scary, or is it? These are just the ‘reported’ cases. How many of you agree to the fact that women are not safe on the streets of Delhi? How many of us can roam around in the capital after 9pm? If we must, we need to be manned. Literally. But that again cannot guarantee safety. Nirbhaya is the worst example. In short, the city has failed us.
Our government keeps on talking about infrastructure, well-lit roads, CCTV cameras and safer modes of transport. Slogans change but situation remain same with every change of rule. In a recent incident, a case of harassment was captured on CCTV but it hardly helped to nab the culprits. This incident broke our trust on CCTVs, which are portrayed as ‘effective security devices’ by the government.
While Delhi is infamous as ‘rape city’, it doesn’t negate the fact that the situation is no better in other cities. The present government wants to make ‘smart cities’ with this extremely ‘unsmart’ population. Smart cities shouldn’t only be about cleaner roads and better infrastructure. It should have more schools and colleges that teach students gender sensitivity. The citizens should be made to understand that women are equal. The question that keeps coming up is: How should a smart city be? For me and for all women, a city can be called smart that gives us enough freedom to do whatever we want to, which takes care of us. Before it gets too late give us a better, safer and smarter city. Respect us. Respect our space.