Why we did the campaign?
Weeks of on ground research, audits, community sessions and heartbreaking data deemed Lal Kuan as one of the most unsafe places for women in New Delhi, the country’s capital. From unreported murders and rapes to dowry deaths and suicides, this area poses way many problems than solutions. We were approached by the Plan India Gender Resource Center (GRC) to collaborate with them in addressing sexual violence in public spaces of Lal Kuan.
Safecity worked with the Plan India GRC on ‘all solutions for no problems.’ This project has been implemented under the ‘Awaaz Uthao’ program of Mission Convergence, Government of NCT Delhi. We have trained more than 50 community members, which includes a good number of men, who were leading the campaign for safe public spaces. We mapped critical zones of Lal Kuan and an issue cut analysis was done to determine the possible interventions for these spaces. The community members actively participated with our campaign team in mapping safe and unsafe spaces, looking for solutions to address specific issues in the spaces trending in our conversations and aggregated data.
The focus of this program was also on attitudinal and behavioral change through community participation, leadership and responsiveness.
How we did it?
Under this program, we were-
-conducting community meetings and holding stakeholders’ forums
-forming community member collectives in our zones of work
-raising awareness through art and theatre
-collecting reports of personal experiences of sexual harassment in public spaces
-regular audits and safety walks in the critical zones
-working with local police and governing bodies for systemic change
-training community members to monitor cases of violence in their areas
What changed around us?
Within the village of Lal Kuan, women were regularly molested as they went to a nearby jungle area to relieve themselves. Investigations revealed that public toilets within the community were under lock and key, and with no access to toilets the women had no choice but to go into the jungle, making them vulnerable and at risk of violence. Hear women from Lal Kuan talk about it – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV0eDTGql5A, https://youtu.be/lryq2GgPH_A, https://youtu.be/NTHDD8ivVL0)
Data captured in a joint survey between Safecity and Plan India’s Gender Resource Center, paired with Safecity’s crowd mapping platform allowed the women from Lal Kuan to successfully pressure local authorities to open and maintain the toilets. This success showed these women just how powerful information and communication technology (ICT) is in creating change.
Information is key to understanding an issue, making decisions, seeking help and pushing for change — in addition to holding existing systems accountable.
At a tea stall in Lal Kuan, Delhi, women often found themselves being stared at. At the Safecity workshop, the girls admitted that in order to avoid that tea stall, they would have to take a longer route. Safecity collaborated with The Fearless Collective (a collective of singers, artistes and filmmakers) and painted the wall outside the tea stall with the girls. Elsa says, “The girls painted the wall depicting staring eyes and a message that roughly translates in English as: ‘Look with your heart and not with your eyes’ and ‘We will not be intimidated by your gaze’. The wall mural was so effective, the staring and loitering has reduced since then and the tea stall has moved to a different area. The mural is still there!