In an attempt to make Mumbai safer for women, a non-profit organisation has conducted one of the first formal safety audits in bustling Prabhadevi.
Conducted three months ago by 30 local women who work with the NGO Akshara, the audit consisted of interviews with women about their feelings about safety in public spaces.
It also included four “safety walks”, conducted both in daylight and at night, where women walked through Prabhadevi’s “most unsafe” lanes to mark them out on a map.
Unsafe areas identified by women included lanes with low lighting and corners where people could hide as well as public toilets with easy access for voyeurs. While Akshara is still preparing the formal audit report, it plans to submit the map to civic authorities along with a list of suggestions to make no-go areas safer. These include more streetlights and police chowkies.
“The biggest fear women have is of violence, a fear that debilitates them and often governs career choices,” said Nandita Gandhi, co-director of Akshara.
Recently, safety audits were conducted by authors Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade, who launched their book ‘Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets, on Friday’. The book explores how women tend to avoid certain spots in the city based on a sense of “discomfort” they experience.
Akshara hopes that safety audits are taken up as a movement by more organisations, so that the entire city is mapped.