Safety a Big Concern for Women in India While Choosing Cities They Work In
This was 35000 feet above the ground somewhere between Mumbai and Bangalore. My co-passenger and I started talking about workplaces and cultures. “I am so glad my parents have moved to Mumbai,” she said as we got talking. I was curious. “It’s much easier to go out than when they were in Delhi and I would be scared to step out. That too in Noida.” Cities in India and their safety concerns are worthy of headlines again and again. Some horrific statistic shows someone is raped in India every three minutes.
Educated or uneducated, women are unsafe in India no matter where they go and how well stocked they are with pepper sprays and knives. So I wasn’t surprised at this conversation, but it occurred to me that this safety issue was like an invisible cloak following us everywhere. In a vast country like ours, with 4000 cities, we feel safe only in three or four places. That’s 0.1 per cent of our country. That’s a compelling number.
Educated or uneducated, women are unsafe in India no matter where they go and how well stocked they are with pepper sprays and knives.
She and I counted Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad among the cities. Chandigarh wasn’t far but for its widespread expanse and borders and recent incidents, that too was slipping off the list.
This girl, an engineer now coding for a German multinational studied in one of India’s top engineering colleges and during the campus placement categorically picked Bangalore and Mumbai as job destinations. It was a risk. She was already narrowing down placement offers. She didn’t want to be in Delhi even though her family was. This is how she put it: ‘I knew that at 5 pm daily I would be wondering when I would / could leave office. That would have meant that people would assume I work less, because I have to leave early (although it would be for safety issues). It would look like the men work much harder. Since they put in more hours. So I chose Bangalore and decided to work day and night to compete with any man in the coding world.’
This girl, an engineer now coding for a German multinational studied in one of India’s top engineering colleges and during the campus placement categorically picked Bangalore and Mumbai as job destinations.
So, in India for those who can make a choice, cities will determine where women want to work. When I raised this question in the Women Safety Group, where you can become a member right here, I got some fascinating responses.
Public Transport Matters
“It is very much part of working women’s psyche. The cities I have enjoyed living most are actually the ones having safe transport system. It gives me the freedom to lead my life on my own terms. You can choose where to go and how long to stay without getting worried,” said one of the commentators.
Personally for me, when I joined college, my father chose to give me a bike. This horrified the parents in his circle. But what he did changed my life. I didn’t have to travel by the blue lines and get rubbed around by crowds. It made me independent and forced me to take decisions about myself. It allowed me to work after college.
A Woman Is A Woman
“I used to work in remote villages of Haryana for 3 years. Our guard had this favourite line in Haryanvi loosely translates to, “You may be a doctor or whatever, after sunset, a woman is a woman”… We used to run to our quarters at 5 PM literally worried for our lives…”
When The Night Falls
“I’ve worked in Delhi for over 10 years now. My number one thought each evening is getting home safely. The moment it’s dark I’m uncomfortable. It’s worse in winter” Another person shared how she would just call herself lucky for making it through back home in the night. “I used to stay in NSG, Manesar and work in Gurgaon which is approx 30 kms. Late night travel on highway always bothered me even if I was in my car. Heard so many incidences. It was scary.”
Safety will determine eventually a lot of decisions women will take. Sadly only some women will have a choice, rest will keep running, hiding, hoping and fighting.