NEW DEHLI — It is not unusual for women in India to report feeling unsafe while walking at night. According to the United Nations, 95% of women feel unsafe the moment they step outside their home in broad daylight. Increasing violence against women in India has sparked widespread fear within its society. Such concerns are heightened among Indian women attending university, due to prevalent gang rape and sexual violence in public spaces.
Another statistic from the United Nations reports 51% of men have committed some kind of violent sexual assault towards a woman. A program based out of New Delhi hopes to lessen this statistic. The program, created by UN Women, is called Safer Cities Free of Violence against Women and Girls Initiative. The initiative is based India, as well as in other countries like Ecuador and Egypt. Safe Cities aims to empower women and educate their communities so as to help reduce violence against women in India and elsewhere.
Most women in India do not feel safe in their communities and do not trust the police. According to recent media coverage, safety for women is becoming a major concern for parliamentary action. The demand for improved safety for India’s women will influence the country’s upcoming elections.
The gang rape of a 23-year-old university student on a Delhi bus has resulted in segregated buses. Safety on the transit system has always been a struggle for women, and due to the recent increase of women in the workforce, more women are out late at night. Since the number of women in the workforce doubled over the past 10 years, rape has risen 30%. According to The New York Times, kidnappings of Indian women have increased 50% since 2003.
In response to the increase, India has introduced female-only transit to its four largest urban centers. Companies now offer female-only shuttles for women who are working night shifts as increased measures of safety. According to recent reports, women feel as though the safety measures have placed them into a special class and deemed them as weak. As Sarah Goodyear wrote in The Atlantic, “I kept bumping into the sensation that I was being quietly but definitely segregated from men, put in a special class that was weaker and needed protection.”
India’s history included a more patriarchal society, repressive outlook, and caste system. The remnants of India’s caste system are still evident in Indian society today. In order for India to continue its progress and development, some believe its treatment of women must change. India currently ranks 132 out of 187 countries for human development. The country is working towards improving such statistics.