Anyone who is not an Indian woman may be baffled at the question, what do Indian women really want. It’s nothing otherworldly or complex, but plain and simple safety. Yes, safety because this very thing gives women their freedom. Even as India celebrated its 73rd year of independence, we must ask ourselves, are our women really free?
How many women are comfortable with OLA Share or Uber Pool?
Public safety has different connotations for both men and women in India, women are subject to more harassment in public places than men whether it’s stalking, catcalling, molestation, assault, sexual assault, and rape. While much of violence in India takes place behind closed doors and inside homes, there is enough happening on the streets and sometimes even in broad daylight. In addition to this, public transport has also proved that it is not safe for a majority of Indian women and plenty of studies have supported this. How many women are comfortable taking a late bus or train or even sharing a cab through OLA Share or Uber Pool? The average Indian woman has a hundred thoughts on her mind before she leaves her home on how she can keep herself safe. From choosing her clothing carefully, to avoiding certain streets or modes of transport, Indian women have to change their daily routine to make sure that safety comes first. It’s not just day and night anymore, it’s about safety and danger.
Women don’t want exclusive spaces, but rather the freedom to move freely
While a majority of us don’t think beyond the boundaries of urban areas, what about women living in rural areas? Safety needs to be available for everyone, but it has become something that can only be bought as if safety is a luxury, not all women can afford it. Did you know that women willingly travel an additional 40 minutes each day and spend 18,800 rupees per year to stay safe? Similarly, women are also settling for a lower-quality educational institution which is closer to home than travel further for a good education. While one sees women-only transport services, train coaches, buses, colleges, etc, this is not what they want. They don’t wish for exclusive spaces, but rather the freedom to move freely and not have to look over one’s shoulder often. If the day comes where women are safe in India, it will mean changes in the midset of society, families and the enforcement of the law of the land. Safety is the first step towards freedom.
Image credit: The National