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Safety in stupidity

The Delhi Police commissioner wants women not to venture out alone at night. Silly, isn’t he?

india Updated: Jul 11, 2011 22:02 IST

On the face of it, it’s one of those ‘practical’ remarks that your grandma would make. Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta has ‘advised’ women of the capital of 2011 India not to venture out alone too late at night.

To make his comments more specific, what the man said on Saturday was, “You can’t go out at 2 in the night and then say you were a victim of crime.” He added that the smart thing to do would be to “be accompanied by a relative or a friend when travelling at night”.

We’re yet to really ascertain whether he meant male relative or friend, but we’re almost sure that this might be what he meant.

First of all, while late nights may be when those nasty Delhi menfolk may be out and about, Mr Gupta would be better informed about the fact that late nights are not the equivalent of the vampire’s post-sundown.

Violence against women have been quite prevalent before Mr Gupta’s mythical 2 am curfew hour.

And if he wants to suggest that women ideally don’t step out of their homes unescorted, that’s another matter altogether for which we could invite a Talib to argue his case for him. Yes, a woman travelling alone in Delhi isn’t safe.

But the only way to make this an anachronism is to make the city safe — as it is in Mumbai or Kolkata, two places where women are already thanking their lucky stars that they don’t live in Delhi or have a nincompoop of a police commissioner like Mr Gupta.

The ‘don’t ask for it’ argument — well-meaning as it may be — is as old as the hills and only perpetuates the ‘it’s the victim who is stupid’ logic.

No doubt it is true that the police can’t be everywhere at all times.

But if Delhi, proud of its its women’s independence as it hopefully is of its modernity, wants to make itself a safe place for women, the answer is not to send its ladies inside the safety of the their houses or behind the protective thrall of its men, but to make predators shake in their chappals as well as provide streetlights et al — things that usually make things a tad more difficult for prowlers to operate in.

Mr Gupta must have mixed up fixing curfew hours for youngsters in his family with setting unofficial rules for women in general. Sometimes silly people think that the best way to tackle dandruff is to cut off the head. Stupid, isn’t it?