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India Unsafe For Women

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
India unsafe for women

South Asia Post - July 15, 2010

THIS is India’s national capital, Delhi. From here India’s most powerful women govern. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is an unassailable chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance. And, Mrs. Sheila Dikshit is the chief minister of the state of Delhi. Here women dare not venture out during night time, although they are harassed during the day too.

According to a widely reported recent study, two out of three women in Delhi have suffered sexual harassment at least 2-5 times in the last year. A joint survey report released by NGO Jagori, United Nations Development Fund for Women and UN Habitat has pointed out that gender based violence on the increase.

The survey 'Safe Cities Baseline Survey- Delhi 2010' gathered and analysed information about the nature and forms of gender based violence and harassment faced by women, the role of governing agencies and the police in safeguarding women's rights and societal perceptions and attitudes towards sexual harassment. A total sample of 5010 people, first of its kind and includes the perceptions and experiences of men regarding the issue. It looked at harassment of women and the public spaces available to women in this ever growing influential city of India.

More than 80 per cent of the respondents reported incidents of verbal harassment, with 45 per cent women reporting incidents of stalking. Women claimed to suffer maximum harassment in the marketplace followed closely by metro stations and areas around schools and colleges. Roadsides and public transport are places where women are most vulnerable to harassment. The survey found school and college students to be most vulnerable to harassment, though women across all categories face harassment.

The main reasons for sexual harassment identified by the survey include lack of gender friendly and functional infrastructure such as adequate lighting, sidewalks and safe public toilets; open usage of alcohol and drugs by men; and the lack of effective and visible police presence. 54 per cent of women reported feeling unsafe and vulnerable in crowded public transport and bus stops.

Female respondents expressed a dismal lack of confidence in the police to curb harassment, with only 0.8 per cent reporting such incidents to the authorities. The vast majority responded to harassment by confronting the perpetrator themselves or by seeking help from family and friends. How sad is the fact that the lack of faith in the police extended across all occupational groups.

Is India really progressing? The fate of women is harassment or honour killing, rape and beatings. Is this the rise of Indian civilization and its culture value system?

Why cannot these two powerful women help their sisters? They can help improve public infrastructure such as streetlights, sidewalks and privacy of public women's toilets. They can also instruct to publicise the use of helplines, deploying policemen and sensitising the public. Also, why we cannot educate our young in schools and colleges to respect the women.

source: http://www.southasiapost.org/2010/20100715/edit.htm
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