After women’s coaches in the Delhi Metro, cab services with women drivers for women and all-women autorickshaw services, the only thing left was a women-only liquor store to increase the gender divide in what is known as India’s “rape capital”.
A liquor store in East Delhi’s Star City Mall has created an exclusive ladies-only zone with women sales executives and security guards, claiming to create a women-friendly environment.
This new section aims to attract women customers and help them buy liquor without the “stares and hassle that men create”.
I have spent at least six years living in East Delhi, both as a college student and a working woman, and this was one mall that my girlfriends and I used to frequent to buy liquor much before the ladies-only store opened.
Yes, we were a little hesitant initially about visiting a liquor store without a male friend to accompany us, but we did it anyway.
On a few visits we were aware of the stares and whispers that usually follow two girls spotted buying beer. So we bought the regular domestic beers and left without wasting a second.
However, from then on, we adopted a “to hell with judgments” attitude and marched into the liquor store, inquired about different brands and spent a substantial amount browsing through its wine section. And it felt good. The people stopped staring and we were treated as equals.
After six years of this, I am now more than confident enough to shop at these stores alone and feel safe.
But with this ladies-only store, I fear our gender will only face more harassment and feel less confident in public places. Just like it happened in the Delhi Metro.
When I jump into a general compartment, I am met with the same old verbal and physical harassment. Every second feels unsafe if I am alone in a crowded Metro train, with men staring at me like I am from outer space. And it gets worse at busy intersections when someone gropes you and disappears in the crowd.
This has made me get off so many Metro trains, walk till the end of the platform to board the ladies coach or wait for another train though I am running late for work.
Now with gender segregation even at liquor stores, it feels like I will again be an outsider and feel unsafe while visiting a gender-neutral liquor shop.
(The views expressed by the writer are personal. She tweets as @Ridzi1)