The recent incident of the 23 year old photojournalist who was gangraped at Shakti Mills has brought into focus how women feel unsafe in Mumbai. Many call Mumbai a safe city for women, but the truth is that there are thousands of women who feel unsafe.
It is not only a matter of identifying 272 unsafe areas, or of installing lights or increasing the police force or changing the mindset of men. We need an Action Plan which is comprehensive and which brings together all the departments and bodies of the government and citizens groups together.
As citizens of Mumbai, we have felt safe in our city as compared to other cities in India. But our experiences say that feeling safe and being safe are different. The HT Akshara’s survey shows that 95 % of 4225 women interviewed experienced sexual harassment. Sixty five percent had experienced physical harassment like touching and groping. Fifty six percent had faced harassment at least 2-5 times in a year.
Being safe means not having a fear of assault or harassment, it means not thinking twice before getting out of the house - whether it is daytime or nighttime, not wondering whether to ask a friend to accompany you or think whether to walk down the lonely road or use a taxi. Being safe means that you are not groped in a bus or train. It means that you can walk without hearing whistles or comments on your clothes. It encompasses the freedom to wander or sit by the wayside to have a cup of tea. And when all women, the homeless women on the street and those walking across a dark parking lot to their cars, feel safe, we can say the city is truly safe for all its citizens.
If one half of its population is constrained in their mobility then it will reflect on their work, choice of career and incomes. Their families as well as the city are deprived of their full potential.
Join us in telling the Chief Minister to come up with an Action Plan for women safety in Mumbai. We want one comprehensive Plan which will cover infrastructure, education, cultural, media interventions as well as police and judicial changes. A plan that will look at prevention and justice.
Sign this petition and share it with your friends and family, we will take it to the Chief Minister for discussion and implementation.
Nandita Shah, Co-Director Akshara Centre
Nandita Gandhi, Co-Director, Akshara Centre