70 per cent of women feel unsafe
New Delhi: The latest subject of discussion among women these days is not corruption, but of feeling unsafe in New Delhi.
The recent spate of violent crimes against women in the national capital has got various women's organisations and NGOs up in arms. They are knocking on the doors of Home Ministry personnel and Delhi Police headquarters to wake them up and ask for their right to feel secure.
A survey conducted of women aged 18 to 45 by Synovate, a global market research agency, concluded that 70 per cent of women feel unsafe in Delhi. While 64 per cent said that they had personally faced harassment by men, 54 per cent considered it dangerous to step out alone after 8pm.
At least 64 per cent of women needed a male companion to accompany them while venturing out in the night and almost 50 per cent felt more police presence was the answer to improve security.
The survey also suggested that the police needed to restore its own image and win the confidence of women. Lack of confidence was reflected in the force, as an overwhelming number reported not having gone to the police even though they faced an unpleasant experience.
It not only indicated the futility of reporting matters, but also the fact that when any untoward incident happened, no one came to the rescue of the victim.
Kirti Sharma, who works in a hotel located in central Delhi said: "I take the Metro from Mayur Vihar, but have to walk some distance before reaching my work place. Umpteen times, especially in the evening, I find myself in precarious situations. Sometimes I would inform my parents, but one day when they asked me to leave the job, I was stumped."
"Why should women have to sit at home doing nothing, just because men want to have their way?" she said.
Kirti said it was impossible for any woman to be chaperoned by a man every time she ventured out. "This certainly is not the solution," she added.
In wake of the recent cases, the Delhi Police has issued a list of guidelines which have been made mandatory for all BPOs, corporate houses and media organisations in the city to ensure the safety of the women staff. Violation of these guidelines will mean a jail term of up to six months.
The police directed the establishments to maintain a database of all employees, security personnel, cab drivers and contractual workers and asked the organisations to hire contractual staff from licensed agencies only. The order read: "It must be ensured that women employees are not made to travel alone with the cab driver at night and a duly verified security guard is invariably deployed in each cab."
The orders enforced from December 8 shall remain in force for a period of 60 days.
With a spate in activity after the kidnap and rape of a Mizo girl, a civil society delegation met Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to campaign for safer Delhi for women.
Lansinglu Rongmei, President of the North East Support Centre and Helpline said: "We submitted a 15-point list of demands to her to make the city safe. The matter has become a concern for all women and young girls, although the issue of easy targeting of women from the North East remains a major worry."
She suggested night patrols in unsafe areas, setting up of CCTV cameras and companies to follow safety guidelines. The Centre felt that Delhi Police must learn to be proactive rather than reactive in tackling the issue of safety for women.
"As long as the police and the government machineries remain in reactive mode, crimes like rape will continue to happen," the President said. In the last two months the city has seen five gang rape cases with the Police registering on an average one rape case almost every day.
Rapes in New Delhi
* 2007 - 581
* 2008 - 466
* 2009 - 452
* 2010 - 432 (till December 8)