Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chennai Women's Experiences: Public Places and Transport

M Shiamala Baby's notes from her presentation on Chennai women's experiences on streets and in transit, on December 7 2013.

Chennai Women's Experiences: Public Places and Transport

a. Threat to women's safety in transit
b. Challenges faced by different stakeholders in addressing them
c. What, as an individual, can one do to make Chennai city safer for women, with regard to streets and transport?

Common challenges faced by women who take buses, trains, share autos, bicycles, or go by walk:

Introduction: Life is a one-time gift from the Supreme Being. It is a natural birth right of every living creature. Human beings are also entitled to lead a safe, happy and peaceful life in their lifetime, in this world. Very often, this right is denied to the majority in different ways. This is a social injustice

 In the 1990s, India became part of the Globalisation process: Globalisation, Liberalisation and Privatisation. 

Now, the world has shrunk to a global village. Money rules, and not values.

Growth -- uncontrolled growth -- is an outcome of Globalisation.
> Community gives way to individualism
> Busy world/busy life
> Development is not evenly brought in our nation.

Projects and development activities should reach out into the rural areas and small towns so that people do not need to migrate.

Chennai: Chennai, known as Greater Chennai, contains approximately 8 million population (80lakh) making it the fourth largest urban area in India. 

Chennai Crime Rate: According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India - 2011 report, Chennai recorded:
> 168 homicides
> 76 rapes
> 2 major bank robberies

On the road
> No footpath: encroachment by parked vehicles
> Girls/women who cycles are tortured by men drivers who keep honking
> No toilets for women on road sides
> Hoardings/posters hide the walking space
> Posters pasted on milestones making the way unreadable
> Chain snatching
> Eve-teasing danger: Sarika Shaw killed
> Alcohol shops: [By] 5 or 6pm, drunk men are on the road: eve teasing
> Eve teasing with film songs that have double meaning
> Night time autos: In Tambaram, a woman was robbed of her jewels and left [stranded] on the road
> Shopping malls: cameras in trial rooms
> Sexual acts openly on the roads
> Ladies riding bikes, cycles or driving cars are harassed by male drivers. [Overtaking, honking, passing nasty and lewd comments]
> People don't follow traffic rules, drive as they like
> ATMs not safe for women [No watchman, or elderly men posted as watchmen]
> Single women are signalled by sex-work mafia

Different Stakeholders
> Elderly: No facilities -- [reserved seats on bus] occupied by others
> Physically challenged: No ramp system
> Children

Trains: After 10.30pm, trains are not safe
Buses: Eve teasing, touching, signalling, sexual abuse

Cab drivers are now supposed to produce their ID proof in the police station: A good move.

1. A proper policy to regulate traffic must be made
2. Decentralised employment opportunities
3. Police should be sensitised to not take bribes
4. Population explotion should be controlled
5. Women to learn self-defence methods
6. Awareness building
7. Follow the traffic rules
8. Many women should be trained as auto drivers, cab drivers with safety measures 


M Shiamala Baby is the founder-director of Forum for Women's Right and Development. FORWORD is a secular and non-profitable Women's Organization in Tambaram, Chennai. FORWORD reaches out to oppressed women primarily through awareness and education programmes. Apart from counselling programmes and advocacy, regular seminars and workshops on domestic violence are conducted. FORWORD works with various groups, across Chennai and its suburbs and in Kancheepuram district, at different levels.

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