The fear of public spaces has kept women imprisoned inside the four walls of their houses for long and that has been extremely detrimental to India’s economic growth. According to a 2018 McKinsey Global Institute study, India could increase its GDP by $770 billion by 2025 by getting more women to work.  In other words, the lack of safety for women is costing India billions of dollars. And the one thing that ensures a dip in daily occurrences of crimes against women on the streets like harassment, molestation, eve-teasing etc. is systemic change.

To bring this systemic reform, the Centre for Social Research in collaboration with The Asia Foundation, and Korea International Agency (KOICA) prepared a gender sensitisation manual for law enforcement after engaging with police personnel. The manual is part of their two-year on-going project, titled “Making Cities Safe for Women in India,” implemented across three cities of Bhopal, Gwalior, and Jodhpur. In the three cities, the partners collected and collated data on women’s safety perceptions; and facilitated dialogues with law enforcement, city officials, youth, and civil society organisations.

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CSR’s role was to address Police Capacity Building and also facilitate dialogue with key stakeholders. It undertook Desk Review and Training Needs Assessment Exercise to conduct gender sensitisation workshops for the police officers in the three cities.

“This Manual is the first-ever attempt of its kind that while addressing the subject of gender sensitivity in the police, also details police response to cases of public place crimes and violence and the police response towards the same. Since the manual caters to precise nature of crimes through a gender lens, it is recommended that the trainers use it as a supplementary tool while administering existing topics in the police training academia that are found to be relevant to human rights,” says the CSR report.

Ranjana Kumari, Director of CSR, talked about this initiative with SheThePeople.TV and said, “Our police training combines CSR’s core gender sensitivity curriculum with expertise on laws that apply to women. Police officers leave our training with a better sense of the barriers women face in reporting and redressing crimes, the legal recourse available to women, and grounding inappropriate practices for engaging with women in police reporting and investigation.”

The other part of the project was held by Safetipin in which it conducted intensive safety audits in the three cities and arrived at a list of nine parameters that make a public space safe for women. Of the nine parameters, three dealt with how women felt when they were at a public space:

  1. Feeling (Is the public space giving a woman the feeling of safety and security?)
    2. Gender Usage (presence of other women at the public space) and
    3. People (presence of more people that can make a woman

Four parameters of SafetiPin’s safety audit dealt with the need for quality infrastructure in a public space that not only make women feel safe but also establish safety through proper mechanisms:

  1. Walk path
    2. Security
    3. Visibility
    4. Openness
    5. Lighting

The contribution of law enforcement in making and sustaining safe public spaces lies in their human response system and their systemic efficiency.

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The manual is part of their two-year on-going project, titled “Making Cities Safe for Women in India”, implemented across three cities of Bhopal, Gwalior, and Jodhpur. In the three cities, the partners collected and collated data on women’s safety perceptions; and facilitated dialogues with law enforcement, city officials, youth, and civil society organisations.

“Women’s safety is a big concern in Indian cities. With more women seeking opportunities for education and work, it is important to have a holistic strategy to create safer streets and public spaces.” said Dr Kalpana Viswanath, CEO and Co-founder, Safetipin.

Creating a united front which includes police departments, city government officials, civil society, and young people is key in order to bring forth a set of actionable recommendations which can be taken up to ensure that urban spaces grow and evolve in a way that is inclusive and gender-equitable.

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