By Reeti Singh:
All around people are shocked and enraged over the Delhi gang rape. There is much rage and more waving of the banner of Delhi as unsafe for women. The reason for writing this article is twofold. The first, the reaction it has evoked. The second, and more of my concern, is the emphasis on Delhi high-lighted time and again as unsafe for women. I shall deal with the second first.
Delhi unsafe for women: I am an outstation student residing in a hostel in Delhi. Mostly, I move around by myself and largely on public transport for conveyance. It’s close to 3 years since a regular, observable schedule has been followed by me and my route is always along one specific road inhabited by fast moving traffic at all times. A piece of cake site for anyone to pull a person into a vehicle and pass off un-noticed.
Apart from this is the question of public transport. Autos are an easy place for rapists to pick up a ride, stop at a place, forcibly pack on men and harass a woman. I thank god enough that such an incident has not occurred ever in the over-a-thousand auto rides I have had.
Police checks. Police barricading is a sight I often see in Delhi and cars with tinted windows or dark films are shorn of them. Government buses packed with people are allowed to pass which usually have loads of people packed in them. Motorbikes are often hauled over and moving around sans helmets is checked and charged. Several PSR vans move around all over Delhi at all times. I have never had the need and not found a police person or a method of aid when in distress. Cameras in various public places are installed. Hoardings of SOS numbers put up everywhere in Delhi.
I write this article since it fills me with great grief and rage to see Delhi being advertised as unsafe. My contention here is, a case occurs in Delhi, it is news to be eaten to its bone and waved all over as a topic of conversation and concern. What about cases that occur elsewhere?
Do rapes occur only in Delhi or do you hear only about Delhi cases? Have you ever considered that there is no camera in your street? If something happens to you there is no record, no clue that could help your families find proof. If you are walking on the street and someone stabs you and buries you off somewhere, how is one going to come to know? How do you expect to find a culprit who might be your next door neighbour?
Rapes happen every day, and in every city. I refuse to believe they are all-Delhi-exclusive-events. People need to understand that they should worry more about cities other than Delhi too. In fact, more. I for one, feel safer in Delhi than anywhere else since I have the solace of the city being equipped for such incidents. What about smaller cities where women are made to feel the violation even much after the incident itself? Most would even perhaps whisk it under the carpet and pass it off in silence, both as an individual and as a community. Instead of screaming around songs of Delhi being unsafe, do look into where it’s coming from, what it is returning to and how many cases do you really come to know of from outside Delhi.
Coming to my other cited content, the proposal as to what should be the fate of the culprits. Some say, hang them straight away. Or, shoot them dead. There are two major loopholes to this. One, shoot them dead and save them the guilt to warn others? Two, if I were a rapist, the way out I see, is I rape the girl and I kill her off. No girl. No culprit. I walk away scot-free.
What I propose is public shaming of the worst kind. Life-sentences. Condemn them to physically brutalizing hard work. Or better, subject them to such a same incident, in the same manner. They throw acid on a woman; give them a bath with the same. They do things with iron rods; give it to them the exact same way. Let them suffer. They must suffer. Death is simplifying matters for them and I cannot make my peace with that.
Till matters proceed further, I plead you to worry about your cities as well. I plead you further that the solution for this is not by accompanying your mothers, sisters, wives everywhere, the solution is to make your city safe for them. Begin with making safe spaces for women, not by pushing them to restricted ones of your homes. Do not attempt to make their lives, their timings and their activities according to you, work to make it safe for women. Arrange for better communicating systems. Not for surveillance, but for distress. Attempt to empower them, do not attempt to hand them a pepper spray and cover them in cloth and track them on their phones and ask for accountability all the time. We as women are more concerned about it than you think we are to keep out of trouble. At the end of the day, if such an incident occurs, it will happen to the woman, not to you. But do remember, she does not have to travel all the way to Delhi for it to happen.
It is the responsibility of every individual to contribute to the safe keeping of women and people in general. The doors behind homes are certainly not the answer to that. And, it shouldn’t be.