How can we make India safer for women?

A few days ago, we had discussed the issue of molestation of women in India, in the context of comments by an Andhra Pradesh DGP and a Karnataka minister. We had said that it was not about the ‘right to wear’ but about the ‘right thing to do’. You can read the article, and more importantly, the comments, here

For those who missed it here’s the background:
* There’s an angry debate over the Indian woman and the ‘right to wear’ what she wants, fuelled by comments by a (male) DGP and a (woman) minister.
* Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Dinesh Reddy’s comments about women who dress in ‘flimsy and fashionable’ clothing provoking men to harass them did not go down well with working women across urban India. More recently, Karnataka’s Women and Child Welfare Minister CC Patil caused a furore when he said according to The Times of India , “I don’t favour women wearing provocative clothes and always feel they need to be dignified in whatever they wear.”

 How can we make India safer for women?

What do we need to do as a society to ensure women are safe? Reuters

The comments on the article from readers tell their own story – that the issue is complex and is worthy of much greater debate. (You can read a curation of comments here)

Common sense said:
Dacoity is a crime, yet we've the sense to lock our homes at night. Chainsnatching is a crime, yet we've the sense not to wear expensive jewellery
Eve Teasing/Rape is a crime, yet we debate on why we don't have the freedom to throw away our clothes

Gu’an, another reader, reacted to Common sense:
No one is debating this - and hence, we have more women wearing salwars and sarees than anything else. But point is, are deterrences (policing, conviction, punishment etc) for eve-teasing, rape, "outraging the modesty of women" (even if it is a child!) etc proportionate to the amount of anguish and permanent scaring that the victims go through (which is very different from victims of robbery)? Was the DGP right in placing the responsibility on the victims without even acknowledging these lacunae (of having weak punishments, of not having something like sex-offenders registry etc)?

And finally, with the statistics being the way they are (one rape every half hour, without including eve-teasing and other harassments), how many of these women do you think were raped because of the way they dress? Same is the case with break-ins and chain-snatching: How many victims had left their doors unlocked or wore heavy jewelery? Would you accept a DGP if he implicitly says break-ins and snatchings were majorly because of such behavior?

We’re discussing the issue again, this time provoked by the horrific incident in Gurgaon on New Year’s Eve. There a young woman, walking with her friend, in a busy street, is molested by some youth. She’s not wearing skimpy clothes, she’s not in a locality where what she is wearing is culturally unacceptable. She is not wearing anything remotely ‘provocative’, yet this happens.

You can see a video of the distasteful incident here

What can be done to address this issue? What do the police and the authorities need to do? What do women need to do? What does society, including men and women, all of us, need to do? Write in to contribute to a enlightening discussion


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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2012 18:15:54 IST