Condos are not safe, say residents
The arrest of five men on charges of attempting to rape a 21-year-old IT professional is the fifth case in the last three months, wherein women had to face a scare of rape or molestation in condominiums.
The gated housing societies are perceived as safe spaces as they offer more security to residents. However, despite the presence of added security, instances of crime against women continue to be reported from here.
A woman, who lives in the condominium where Thursday’s incident took place, said, “Women are not safe anywhere. It depends on how united and inclusive the society is. In this case, the accused had been troubling the woman for the past six months. Society members were talking about these things in isolation, but no one made the collective effort to speak up. Had we taken a stand, things wouldn’t have reached this stage.”
Mukta Naik, an urban planner and senior researcher with the Centre for Policy Research, said that the concept of a gated community is a stop-gap. Condominiums offer an illusion of safety, amid layers of security and CCTVs, added Naik.
“With rising income, the concept of gated condominiums has been marketed well by real estate developers. However, this is a short-term vision. It is the failure of our planning ecosystem that we have not been able to work on the vision of an inclusive city. We are trying to put a band-aid on this problem of safety. We are unable to deal with social stresses that can manifest on the lines of economic inequality, gender parity, sexual frustration, job dissatisfaction or in terms of the sense of entitlement that the rich or men have,” said Naik.
Yashesh Yadav, the president of RWA of Mahindra Aura in Sector 110A, said that such cases are being reported from newly developed areas near Dwarka Expressway. “In these areas, the occupancy is less and locals often indulge in unlawful activities and threaten residents. Sometimes, in these new places, developers provide CCTV cameras that are not effective. Even the verification process for new tenants and residents is a sham,” said Yadav.
Kamna Chhibber, a clinical psychologist at Fortis Hospital, said that it is erroneous to associate safety, in a blanket manner, with any place. “Being a resident of a condominium doesn’t guarantee safety. Safety is intrinsically linked to the people who occupy a particular place and humans are known to transgress their boundaries. We have seen enough cases where people with the best of education, jobs and living in the best of places, commit heinous crimes,” said Chhibber.
Tanya Sharma, a single woman who lives in DLF Phase 1, said, “It is not safe outside the condominium. Right outside the society, there are two stretches where the lighting is poor. There are times when men catcall or stare. However, one has to be careful within the society as well. Within the society, there is a lot of greenery that covers small lights, making the area secluded.”
She added that condominiums are like bubbles where people don’t really talk to each other. “When I am alone at home, all the doors are locked. The strangeness of the environment makes you do that because one doesn’t know anyone. People don’t really talk to each other and there’s no one trustworthy one can reach out to for help,” said Sharma.