CALL IT a ‘fair deal’. The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) is mulling over a proposal for a ‘women’s only’ market - owned, run and even patronised - exclusively by members of the fair sex.
While it may provide anxious moments to men (letting an unattended female loose in a shop is the first step to a coronary, as any spouse/boyfriend/father will testify) the ‘Mahila Market’ could be a heaven sent for women forced to fend off men in crowded bazaars.
Household goods, handcrafted items, garments and, of course, cosmetics would be on sale at the market slated to come up at Jyotiba Phule Sabzi Mandi, a stone’s throw from Rajwada, the hub of the City’s mercantile activity.
The Corporation has already begun re-acquiring shops from allottees in the building, originally meant to resettle greengrocers, and the ‘Mahila Market’ is likely to open for business by March.
Although segregation is not exactly a novel concept - the Begums of Bhopal, for instance, barred men from certain facilities including the famed Pari Park (Garden of Fairies) - this is perhaps the first time that a veil is sought to be drawn over mercantile activity in the State.
So what prompted the purchase purdah? “As a woman I have firsthand experience of men’s impatience with wives dawdling over purchases. The Mahila Market will allow women to shop at leisure and away from prying eyes,” said Mayor-in-Council member Shanta Jhanwar, head of the Market Committee that cleared the proposal at a meeting on Monday.
She added that the market would also help women consumers who were squeamish about purchasing ‘certain items’ in the During the meeting, Shanta Jhanwar reiterated that no parking facilities could be maintained anywhere within municipal limits without the Corporation’s permission. She said the IMC would write to Collector Vivek Aggarwal demanding the Nazul department seek authorisation for parking lots being run on its land.
Similar missives would be issued to 17-odd cinema theatres with on-campus parking facilities. “Notices will be served to the theatre owners to apply for authorisation. Those who do so will be granted the right to collect parking charges for one presence of men.
And will the moratorium on men be strictly enforced? “As far as possible we will try and restrict men from entering the market. However, in certain cases, for instance if a woman is accompanied by an infant her spouse may be allowed inside,” concluded the MiC member.