Most women in the city consider public places such as grounds and parks unsafe. This was revealed in the safety audits conducted by Akshara, a nonprofit organisation, at public places in five civic wards in the city.
Akshara conducted the audits in 20 areas across five municipal wards (G-North, GSouth, F- South, M-East, HEast) between December 2012 and March 2013.
Teams comprising Akshara members, community women and National Service Scheme (NSS) students surveyed public places such as roads, parks, playgrounds and skywalks to gauge whether women felt safe or not.
“When the teams visited grounds and parks in the five wards, they found that there were hardly any girls there, even during the day and at night” said Snehal Velkar, senior programme officer, Akshara.
“When we interacted with locals, they told us that most residents are scared to send their daughters to these places because they are largely occupied by men.”
The audit also showed that men indulged in activities such as gambling, drugs and consumption of alcohol at these spots.
“Women can claim these open spaces if the authorities take steps such as installing CCTV cameras or increasing police patrolling,” said Velkar.
Some of the other major findings were that women considered public toilets very unsafe as many of them are unlit, have broken doors and windows, and are often occupied by men at night.
Women also found skywalks unsafe because of the presence of men who harass and stalk them.
Apart from the absence of police patrolling, poor lighting, bad condition of roads, and illegally parked cars are the other reasons why women don’t feel safe on city’s streets.
Akshara collaborated with organisations such as Maharashtra Mahila Parishad, Stree Mukti Sangathana, and Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan, along with local selfhelp women’s groups, for the audit.
Based on the findings, the NGO has offered recommendations such as separate zones and time slots on community grounds for girls, gender sensitisation of police force, and partnership with women’s selfhelp groups to increase safety in public spaces.