Delhi’s poor planning, crippling infrastructure fails women
Poorly-lit stretches, little space on pavements, isolated subways and unsafe public parks contribute to the perpetual feeling of fear and uncertainty among the Delhi’s women.india Updated: Dec 16, 2013 00:53 IST
The December 16 gang rape, which rocked the country last year, had raised questions on the loopholes in policing across the country. However, what escaped attention was the crippling lack of infrastructure that leads to insecurity among the city’s women. A lot was promised soon after the horrific incident, but very little has been done yet.
NGOs working for the welfare of women have highlighted how our urban planning, which is crucial in making the city safer, is ignored by planners.
Our footpaths, bye-lanes, subways and parks continue to be hostile to women, as poor lighting, shrinking pavements, isolated subways and parks occupied by petty criminals deter them from using these facilities.
“It is so difficult to use footpaths that we must walk on roads. Many men also urinate on pavements. Poorly lit stretches and parks make us feel insecure and vulnerable,” said Rashmi Singh, a resident of Kalkaji.
Most surveys conducted by NGOs showed a common concern among respondents: women don’t feel confident using poorly lit stretches as they tend to be isolated.
For instance, a survey by Plan India found that women felt comparatively safer when people were around.
Women spoke about how they have to plan to move around in their own neighbourhoods. They avoided venturing out alone after dark in several areas, including community toilets, tuition classes, market and parks.
“A majority of the women said they feared going to any public facility, be it school, market and community dustbin, and expressed comfort in locations such as inside school premises, or tuition classes where they have the company of other girls,” reads the report.
“While women have become more confident in coming out with cases of sexual harassment and rape and getting them reported, a lot still needs to be done with regard to infrastructural facilities. Lighting is the first thing that needs to be improved drastically so that women at least have a sense of security if they step outside,” said Bulbul Dhar-James, director, Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women’s Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia.
A similar survey undertaken by NGO Jagori with the Delhi government found infrastructural problems that make women feel unsafe in the city. The survey had pointed out that the presence of street vendors makes women feel safe and women were of the view that they should be allowed on the main roads as deserted stretches made them feel vulnerable.
Delhi Police, too, had sprung into action and carried out an exercise to map the most vulnerable areas in the city. While the exercise of mapping was completed, not much was done to increase police presence and lighting on the areas identified by them.
The police had identified approximately 1,500-odd stretches earlier this year which are either poorly lit or completely dark with dysfunctional streetlights. Some of the stretches are: M Block GK-I, Aurobindo Marg, Chirag Delhi stretch, Todarmal Lane, Vakil lane, Ridge Road T-point and Sardar Patel Marg, INA market, Rohini Sector 3, Sarojini Nagar market and Dwarka, Karol Bagh, Delhi Gate.