Komal Gesala is currently studying in T.Y.BCom from Mithibai College. She loves writing short stories and blogging in her spare time.
Safety of women in metropolitan cities
Employment opportunities, better education, higher standard of living or just a craze to live in the city attract a major part of the population to migrate to metropolitan cities. These cities are loud, crowded and full of life and hopes. Naturally, we expect these cities to be gender neutral and equal opportunities to be provided to men and women. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
With dreadful incidents of rape, acid attacks and assault on women, the safety of women is at a great risk. The government has tried time and again to come up with new plans and policies to improve safety of women, but the implementation never lives up to the expectation. Yes, there are CCTV Cameras and women helpline numbers, but is the footage being monitored? Does the control room immediately send someone to the rescue if a woman calls? These questions reflect the way these have worked out so far.
Crime rates have decreased in cities like Chennai, leading people to think that this is progress. But when the residents were asked about what has contributed to the decline of crimes in the city their replies didn’t reflect increase in safety but showed the loss of freedom. Women avoid wearing a particular type of clothes, don’t stay late at office, use only crowded public transportation in late hours, avoid visiting certain place at dark or preferred being accompanied by a male companion while travelling. This simply postpones the crime, instead of preventing it in terms of safety.
To ensure actual safety of women some of the following methods can be adopted-
- Monitoring crowded places–
CCTV cameras are indeed installed, but their footage needs to monitored to ensure safety of women, especially at late hours. In some areas, the cameras have stopped working ages ago, yet they are not replaced or repaired. Thus it is necessary to keep a check on these cameras and make sure they are recording properly. It helps to reduce crimes as offenders may not commit a crime with a fear of being recorded on camera. Also, if a crime is committed, the footage can be used to identify the offender and also as evidence in court.
- Helpline Numbers–
Metropolitan cities have started their own helpline numbers. However, the working of the control rooms isn’t efficient enough. More operators’ especially female operators should be hired and trained. Every call should be responded to within a few seconds itself. The operator can talk to the caller until the help arrives so that she can feel safe. Also, an elaborate system should be designed so that help reaches to the women in a matter of minutes even in remote locations.
- Mapping Dark Spots–
Crime-prone areas or dark spots of the city should be mapped up so that the residents can be extra cautious when they visit these areas. Also, police forces in the nearby areas should be vigilant about the activities happening in those areas to ensure that it becomes a crime-free zone. These areas should be provided with more police verified public transport systems so that they can be connected well with the main parts of the city.
- Street Lighting–
Offenders often take advantage of dark and secluded places to commit crimes. While improper street lighting may seem a minor infrastructure issue, it can really cause great damage. Thus, proper street lighting must be set up in all areas especially at secluded places or partially completed construction sites. Proper street lights can act as a boost of confidence to women travelling in these areas at late hours as fear is always associated with the dark.
- Stationing Police Officers–
Police officers can be stationed at places like girl’s hostels and colleges, open market, railway stations, etc. and keep an eye on offenders. The presence of police officers has a two-fold effect. Firstly, the offenders fear being caught and hence avoid committing a crime and secondly, women feel a sense of security in the presence of these officers. This will help in reducing crimes in the area by a greater number.
- Self-Defence training and awareness programs–
Free self-defense training sessions can be conducted in educational institutions or public spots so that women can learn to defend themselves. Also. awareness programs must be conducted and issues relating to sexual harassment can be discussed. Safe circles can be created through which women can come together, share their experiences and help each other.
- Safety For Travellers–
India is a place that attracts a lot of tourists. Innumerable tourist spots are in the metropolitan cities. However, there has been a drop in the rate of tourists due to safety issues. The government should make policies for protection of tourists in metropolitan cities. Lone women travellers should be provided with helpline numbers, city maps and information on how to get help at the airport itself. The authorities can provide them with brochures of police verified hotels, lodges or guest houses so that they can have a happy and stay safe.
Apart from the above mentioned measures, many other innovative programs can be introduced to ensure safety of women in public areas. Complaint boxes, in-built security apps in phone, patrolling vans, etc. can be introduced. This might take up a huge part of government revenue, but if it helps to save the lives of thousands of women, isn’t it worth it?
Opinions are of the writer.