Not so safe city: Woman gets stared at, followed while walking in Mumbai
Is Mumbai completely safe for women? As a new video of a woman walking in the city shows, it's never so simple.
Which is the real Mumbai? Is it this one where a woman can walk around all over the city in a skirt and top and not get cat-called or even stared at or is it the one in the above video, where a woman was constantly stared at as she went around the city for an hour? The truth as the second video shows is never so simple.
Inspired by the NYC video, where a woman got cat-called over a 100 times as she walked a 10-hour period in New York, these videos of women walking have taken off all over the world. It's no surprise that people in India also repeated the experiment.
The latest video by two girls shows a completely different picture for Mumbai, India's so-called safest city for women. The woman is shown silently walking in Mumbai for an hour dressed in a green skirt and a black top.
While we can't hear any cat-calls because the editors decided to cut out the natural sound (wonder why), we can see that woman gets a lot of stares and double glances. One man even follows her silently and waits for her to pass by from a different place. By the end of the video, the exasperated woman exclaims, "I can't take any more men looking at me."
Interestingly the folks at IndieTube who did the first Mumbai video (where there were no cat-calls) did another video for Delhi. The results were in stark contrast to the ones in Mumbai.
The woman in the Delhi video was harassed, cat-called and even approached by some of the men. Check it out below:
So is there really a city in India where women don't get call-called or stared at by men? Much as the Indie-tube video would like to project Mumbai as the ideal place for women and Delhi as this crude, crass nightmare, the truth is as we can see from the second video, somewhere in the middle.
As someone who's lived in both cities for fairly long periods, I have to admit, Mumbai tends to have this reassuring feeling even if you're travelling late at night, while Delhi instills this fear of public space in a woman.
Yes, Mumbai is definitely much safer for women and while harassment might be noticeably less, it doesn't mean that the city has no cat-calling or staring. Possibly one of the worst harassment incidents I faced was in Mumbai, when men kept following me on a bike and threatening my auto-driver, who to his credit told the men to buzz off. And men will stop and stare at you in Mumbai as well.
Where Delhi is concerned, the perception is that it is much less safe that Mumbai, and it's an idea that has gained even more credence post the Delhi gangrape of 2012. If you're a female Delhi resident, you are likely to have your fair share of stories of daily harassment and probably take millions of precautions before you step out late at night.
But it would be unfair to say that all parts of Delhi are unsafe and that there's constant harassment. Sure I've gotten stares and comments, but as someone who's walked in parks or to the metro station alone at night in Delhi, it's been mostly a safe experience so far.
The point to take away from all these videos: Harassment on public streets, either by just staring at women or following them or even calling out to them, is something that is present everywhere. And that really is the problem. It's not 'cities' which are to blame, it's a mindset. That there is nothing wrong with treating women as objects who can be stared at, approached and harassed with impunity.
And that is the tragedy.
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