By P.V. Swati:
In view of two gang rape incidents recently in Gurgaon, Deputy Commissioner P C Meena has issued many dos and don’ts to Gurgaon women to avoid eve-teasing and molestation. What tops his list is the criteria that women should not be out in the public after 8 PM. Meena said the incidents of molestation and eve-teasing brought a bad name to the city and tarnished its image. So, he is now out to tame the women of Gurgaon. As per to his orders, now shopping mall and pub owners and those running shops and commercial establishments have been asked to not to keep women employees on duty beyond 8 in the evening. If women employees are detained on duty after that, it should be with the permission of the Labour department!
This was a classic Sheila Dixit of course. In 2008, she did her part of obstructing women’s freedom to move about in the night and also came under attack from politicos and women activists for her comments on the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan that ‘one should not be adventurous being a woman.’
Instead of implementing stringent laws to curb the few rapists out there, the Gurgaon Police decided to uproot all the women from their work places by 8’o clock in the evening. This curfew clearly reflects the authority’s attitude towards women. There is an obvious attempt to restrain women’s freedom, but apart from that legitimising 8 PM as the standard time for women to be out of the public areas has rather put them in more danger. Instead of ensuring for safety for women, the Gurgaon police have imposed limitations on them.
Meena added that if women employee are deputed on duty during the night shift, that is, after 8PM, her safe transportation from her home to place of duty and vice versa will be the responsibility of the employer who will have to keep a daily record of the vehicle used, its registration number, time of departure, name of driver who is entrusted the task of picking up or dropping the women employees. Plus, the place from where the women employees boarded the vehicle that is, parking place should have a CCTV camera there so that it can be ascertained that the woman was not lifted forcibly.
Meena made it worse by stating that if these instructions were not followed, then case will be registered against the pub and mall owner as well. Not only did he curtail women’s freedom to be out when they want to, he gave the employers a great apprehension from recruiting women to the workforce in future. With so many legalities, regulations and stringent surveillance recommend for women workers, it is rather an easy option for authorities to avoid employing women altogether.
What the Gurgaon police seems to have did is giving a free pass to the rapists to do their thing post 8 in the night. Any woman now who is out after the official curfew of 8 would do nothing but ‘invite’ men to sexually harass her. The police forces have shed their responsibilities of making Gurgaon safer by playing the classic card of holding the women responsible for being raped.
The question is whether this what we need- an 8 PM curfew? Isn’t making the city a safer place to live, work and move about a more civil way to go about it rather than imposing deadlines on the citizens? The police being the protective authorities of the state is invested with responsibility of maintaining law and order. This can’t be carried on by curtailing the rights of the people. What the Gurgaon police needs is a change of attitude and a drive to root out the factors leading to the problems instead of robbing women off their right to work and travel whenever they want to.