Ganesh identified two categories of women who stay alone – young, unmarried women who usually live in the city for work, and older women who may have been widowed or whose children have left the city.
“Older women usually have a better support system since they network with neighbours and may have relatives. Many younger women are aloof and don’t network a lot,” said Ganesh. “While this can’t guarantee complete safety, it helps minimise the risk. The biggest challenge is that several people can track timings and movements of women who live alone and use it to their advantage. The city is becoming unsafe, and there are people who wait for such opportunities.”
“I am in touch with my neighbours and relatives who keep a check on me,” said Pramila Joshi, 75, who has been staying alone for the past 17 years in Andheri after her husband passed away.
However, others have a different take. “It’s unfair to put the onus on women to ensure their safety,” said Shilpa Phadke, sociologist, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. “We need better policing, more convictions, emergency alarms in homes, housing societies and stations. We need to increase public surveillance using technology,” she said.