(this post is inspired by one of the Urban Cafe talks conducted by IIHS in New Delhi. Although i have thought about this topic for quite some time, it was lost in a chain of thoughts. The talk (or discussion) around safety of women in Delhi metro aligned my thoughts to create a post which post-mortem the reasons behind the prevailing safety issue and offers some thoughts on the newly found policies towards a safer environment)
When i entered the Urban Cafe talk (almost an hour and a half late), it was almost near its end and Garima was summarizing the talk. All that was left for me was to talk about what could we do to create a more safer environment for the ‘suppressed gender’ travelling in Delhi metro. With this blog i intend to put my views for your reading prosecution.
I am not Shobha De, neither am I the head of any Khap in Haryana. But, I have a 22 year old sister and I share the concern of any other brother over his sister’s safety. Over these years, this thought has been more worrying than ever.
Coming back to the topic of Urban Cafe, ‘Are women safe in Delhi metro?’. Well, I believe the term safety is misused here. Safety is a condition of being protected. Protected from any unlikely danger or harm – not just men. It is a preventive measure against all likely harm which can / may most unlikely happen. In that event, i would say both men and women are safe in Delhi metro, from any unlikely incident of accidents (thanks to the high quality preventive measures). Both gender is safe from any harm by a human being as well. Here, though reasonably debatable, i believe we should thank the minimum time interval between two stations and well-lit, remotely monitored stations. We should also thank the terrorists, for the fear of an attack has ensured many military personnel inside the stations .
However, the emphasis here is on safety of women from men, or more specifically male molesters. I believe it is more safe a mode of transportation than other existing ones. I used the comparative adjective ‘more’ because a perfectly safe atmosphere is un-achievable. Unless of course we are all some zombie creatures with no mind / emotions of our own.
I did dare to say more safe because of the following reasons:
- Ambience – well lit and neat atmosphere: Safety is again a state of mind. As Natya pointed out in the concluding talk, its the female gender who should take repulsive action against any indecent advances from an opposite gender. In majority of the so called unsafe situations, such an action – a shout or a kick – can control the situation and make it safe. So, what matters is your presence of mind and the right ambience encourages it. Most of us wouldn’t dare to question unethical or immoral actions in a dark alley. But the chances of you raising your voice is high in a busy street.
- Co-passengers at all points of time: All males are not female molesters! In fact majority of them don’t dare to because of their sane and social mind. Not just that they don’t harm a female, they will dare stand up against any threatening action on a fellow passenger in the society.
- High level of security: I dare not say much more on the need of this but would like to point out that no DTC bus or an auto-rickshaw have one of those Closed Circuit Camera or a BSF constable in/near it.
- Miscellaneous: Here, the minimum time between stations and the intercom facility to talk with the train-driver are many of such small safety measures that i would like to bring to your notice.
So having voiced my points in support that Delhi metro is safer than its alternatives, I now post-mortem two major debatable topics that aroused in the conversation:
- Are the existing measures like reserved coaches for ladies the right step towards safety?
No. As I did mention earlier, safety has got more to do with your mind than with the precautionary actions. The existing orthodox steps like segregating coaches on gender basis do not educate women to hold their presence of mind in any unwanted and unwarranted situation. We are creating a myth of safety by drawing a ‘lakshman rekha’. Todays ‘Ravan’ are not turned away by any rule when they intent to break another.
My reasoning is quite simple, if you do not familiarise women amongst men as another human being and instead give them the status of an un-attainable endangered species, you are cultivating lust. A student from a Coed education system (with both gender in same class) is more comfortable with the opposite gender and sees them as a classmate/friend than a student from single sex education system.
- Are the safety measures enough or more required? If so what?
As I have pointed out earlier, safety is just a precaution and no precaution is enough as there is no perfect situation – both perfectly safe or surely unsafe.
However, currently the metro trains are safer but with great scope of improvements. As Nandita pointed out, we need mobile network connectivity (another factor which can contribute like the ambience) in underground metro tracks and we need to put check on drunkards and anti-social elements entering this transportation system. A better feeder bus service at metro stations can make the almost-deserted-at-night metro stations more safer.
- How can we transfer this safe environment in a metro train to areas around the metro tracks?
Well, i don’t have an answer for this. I leave this to be answered by you…
All i know is that this sense of being safe in a metro will definitely impact civilisation around metro tracks in a positive manner, in due course of time.
Over years, i have heard people say ‘ _______made my day’, Does that mean that something good that happened to you in the morning determines your success for the day?
If so (and i believe it will) Delhi Metro can influence safety conditions for people around the metro track because it boosts confidence.
More over infrastructure like means of commutation and communication has always influenced man-kind in our history, like the invention of wheel or telephone. Also, please do note that the latter (telephone) while spreading good news and happiness, is also used to spread rumours and sad news. So there is again a concern .
- What can we do towards safety for women in Delhi metro?
I always believed in an offensive action against a defensive step in such cases. I recommend we educate people on etiquettes and respect (to the opposite gender , both male and female). We need to induce conversations & networking in a train, make people express empathy like vacating a seat for a person in need. We should also congratulate people who stand up and express good-manners. And we should do that in the open for others to see and follow.
The wagons for doing such activities should be innovative and should attract attention of the masses. Hence, all the above should be done in an organised manner for an effective change towards a safer environment.
This is just a thought by somebody who used metro for some 6 years as his major means of transportation.
disclaimer: this is my thoughts and i understand that you may have contradictory opinions. I respect your views and would like to hear from you. You may comment here or mail me the same