I still remember the day! I was 20 years old. I was excited but my parents were worried. After all, I had got my first job and it was in Delhi. I was busy packing my wonderful dresses and my mum was teaching me how to use pepper spray. On the other hand, my father was telling me to stay away from all the strangers, be it a man or a woman. I really could not understand them and thought I was mature enough to handle myself. And the day arrived when I actually came to the city.
On the first day, I was standing outside a railway station and trying to understand what to do next. A girl of my age stopped by and asked me if I needed help. She helped me board the right metro. As I entered the metro, another young woman offered me to take her seat since I was carrying two full bags and looked quite exhausted due to the travel. I was really surprised.
The next day when I had to go to my office, I was waiting for my office cab and was getting worried since there was no sign of the cab and I was getting late. Then a gentleman told me the right timings of the cab and also stopped the cab for me when it reached the point.
Every day was a new experience in the city and I never felt that I was new there. And in fact, one day I was coming back from my friend’s place and I got very late. It was dark due to the winter but some young men came forward and helped me to take an auto so that I could reach my place safely. People were really good!
Does it seem like a fairy tale?
Well, to be very frank, everything seemed good in the beginning. However, things have changed now. I really have no idea because even when it has been 5 years since one particular incident, I don’t step out in the dark alone. Never!
I stopped taking a bus since there were men who were ready to touch me even in the early morning. I stopped going by autos since I had to keep an eye where they were heading to even during daylight. I stopped wearing clothes that my friends said looked great on me.
At least, I was lucky enough that I knew few people in the city who guided me well after I arrived here. However, what about those thousands of girls who come in the city with no friends and no relatives. Many of them even get manipulated not only by men but by women as well. Some of the girls face problems while selecting a safe accommodation, some girls find it difficult to reach their offices safely and others just feel lonely since they can’t trust anybody in the city.
One of the surveys by Praja Foundation in 2016 said that 60% of people in Delhi and the NCR region do not feel safe, 64% people do not feel safe while travelling in the city, 52% of Delhi people have been victims of crimes and 1/4th of them did not report it.
Is there no solution to the whole problem?
Yes, there is!
The only solution is if women help each other. If as a lady, I can help at least one girl stay safe in the city, then I am definitely giving my one cent in making our city safer. Just imagine, what if all the women in the city join hands and show a strong face to all the manipulative forces? I am certain women power will make them kneel down and behave in a civilised manner. Women can help each other not only in keeping the city safer but also helping each other in growing in their career and life.
Some of the women groups such as SisSaheli, PWN in Mumbai and Aisle app have already started working in this direction. They all are working towards connecting women where they can be each other’s strength. These organisations are certainly giving a strong message that we can stand strong only if we are united.
I am quite certain, with the amount of awareness these organisations are raising, the days are not far when young girls and women will be coming to the city to give wings to their dreams without any hesitation. And not only women but men will also join the hands in making this city safer and livable.