October is Violence against Women Awareness Month
Living in Delhi has made me more aware of my security. The fact that anything can happen to me, or my daughter anytime, is a sobering thought. No, that doesn’t mean that I live under a threat, or can’t step out of my house. No, certainly not. But that does mean that every time I step out of the house after sunset, I am aware of the slight feeling of being unsafe. I try to stick to crowded shopping areas, drive through streets that are busy, and always think of an exit route, in case I get into trouble.
Even when I have hired a cab, I find myself talking on my cell phone, just to let the cab driver know that someone else is aware that I am alone in a cab, travelling to such destination.
Yes, life is Delhi is not very comfortable, if you are a woman. And that makes me wonder that if me, coming from a financially secured strata of the society, can feel this way, what sort of actual violence women on the streets go through!
The other day I saw a teenager begging on the streets of Delhi, carrying a tiny baby. Struggling with the weight, fighting the merging traffic at the busy intersection, is she even aware of the fact that its within her right to seek help if she faces violence, in form of rape, and physical assault? Does the concept of protest against violence to women even percolate down into the streets?
So there’s this helpline number, 1091, where women can call to seek help. Probably help will come also. But what happens after that? When a victim of violence goes to Delhi police what happens?
A recent expose by Tehelka, a news website, reports, ‘In 2010, as many as 414 rape cases were reported in Delhi, the highest among 35 major cities in the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the conviction rate in rape cases in the capital was a dismal 34.6 percent. In case after case, courts have been acquitting the accused, because of flawed first information reports (FIRs), erroneous procedures in collating medical evidence and shoddy investigation.’
In another story, India Today, a news magazine reported, ‘The dazzling streets of Delhi hide a dark truth – women get routinely harassed by men, and worse, their humiliation does not evoke even the mildest of protests from male bystanders.
A survey by Jagori, a women’s rights group, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has found that two of every three women in the Capital have been sexually harassed at least twice and up to five times in the last one year.
Worse, 70 per cent of the men interviewed said they would rather not intervene and preferred to be mute spectators to what transpired in front of them.’
So threat exists. Even if you and me, my blogging friends, who have access to air conditioning and swanky cars, think not, you better be careful next time you step out the house or the car. The streets of Delhi speak a different language all together. If you have a suspicion, call 1091, the call may save your life.