Millennium Post

Fight for gender inclusive spaces still on for city women

“I don’t feel safe in the city. If you ask me, I fret going out of my house late in the evening, and have to depend on my family or at least go out in a group as I don’t know what may happen to me,” said Shivani, a 23-year-old engineering student from Rohini.

This sentiment is echoed by several women across the Capital, as despite the massive outrage over the December 2012 gang-rape case and the measures taken in the aftermath, women still feel that certain parts of the Capital are not gender inclusive and they have to fight for their space.

Several women who were interviewed told Millennium Post that lack of police presence is to be blamed for the lack of access. While some of them from South Delhi area claim that there has been a slight improvement, there are those from Outer, South-east and Outer Delhi who believe that not much has changed.

“In my area there is not much police presence, in fact I hardly find them. There are many incidents of chain snatchings and stabbings in my area. It is not safe to go out, there are so many times that I have been harassed by the boys in the neighbourhood, I fear that if I tell my parents then they will curtail my movement,” said Meenu Kumari, a resident of Sultanpuri.

When the police were contacted about the matter, the official spokesperson said: “We have taken steps to improve the security for women. There are times when we get such complaints and we always take the appropriate action. We depute police personnel according to the requirements of the district.”

Anusha, a 24-year-old  woman, working with a law firm in South Delhi, says that things have improved, however, there is much to be done. “I don’t necessarily face such a problem. I stay in Green Park and we have good police presence there. I have never personally faced harassment but my friends have,” she claimed.

According to Purva Khetarpal, who works with an NGO working in the area of women empowerment and domestic violence, stresses the need for gender inclusive spaces in the Capital.

“If you want to tackle issues of crimes against women, then we must talk about them first. For that to happen, we must have gender inclusive spaces which are desegregated in order for men and women and the third gender to interact. Usually there is reluctance from society to give that inclusive space as there is an inertia and when an incident takes place, then the freedom of women are curtailed,” she said.

This lack of space for inclusive dialogue is the next battle for women across Delhi as the lack of this space results in a reactionary behaviour from the patriarchal mindset of society, as Heena, a 19-year-old student from Jamia Millia Islamia University elucidates: “We have some boys who ogle at us. When we complain to the college authorities they sometimes tell us that we should not go out of the hostel after dark. It’s almost like they are saying that we are the reason for such lecherous behaviour,” she said.

With a long way to go for gender inclusive spaces in Delhi, there are some girls like Meenu Kumari who take the fight into their own hands. “There was this one time when a boy was rubbing against me in a public bus. I did not keep quite and immediately raised my voice. I also pulled his collar and slapped him. The people cheered on, he had to get down at the next stop,” said Meenu beaming with joy.
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