TO ENSURE A SAFE AND SECURE, WOMEN-FRIENDLY CITY
The Indian Women Network (IWN) is an exclusive platform under the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for Women who desire to achieve excellence in their life to network, learn, share & seek better opportunities. CII feels the need for a focused and an all inclusive approach to create gender parity for women in Indian Industry and Civil Society. With deliberations and discussions held in many large forums of CII through conferences and seminars, we have come to an understanding that women require a very structured platform for expanding their professional network. We hope that IWN could be the circle of trust, wherein women share their experiences and overcome challenges at work, family & society. This network is also extended to students of final year graduation and post graduation, to guide them through career options and provide them an opportunity to be mentored by successful women achievers who have climbed up the professional ladder in their respective careers
Ensuring a Safe and Secure, Women-Friendly Capital City
Trivandrum…the capital city of God’s own country! We celebrate the grandeur of the world’s richest temple and take pride in our high literacy rates. We have the country’s most educated womenfolk and entrepreneurs among us. But the security and protection we provide to women within our city doesn’t do justice to this heritage. Our roads and public transport are not at all safe for women and travelling alone at night in the city is a nightmare.
Perception of safety is a state of mind. First and foremost, women should feel safe. She should be most comfortable while inside the city. Some cities are perceived to be safer for women than others. This is based on the crime rates h
appening in those cities and the measures taken to curb them. Steps taken against anti-social elements also help in strengthening the perception of security in the minds of women. This perception is of utmost importance to boost her confidence and moral strength. In the ranking of the world’s crime records, hacking has taken the gold; murder, the silver; and rape pulls alongside these with a bronze. There are many more alarming statistics just like this. We do not want our city to contribute to these anymore and for that, the time to act is now. Women and girls are frequently subject to violence and abuse –
from physical and verbal harassment to assault and rape – on city streets, public transportation or in their own neighborhoods. Such daily occurrences limit the rights and freedoms of women as equal citizens to enjoy their neighborhoods and cities. One of the major concerns for women in urban areas is safety in public spaces in both the developed and developing world. Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence occur every day for women and girls globally. It happens on streets, in and around schools and workplaces, in parks, in public sanitation facilities, and in neighborhoods. Violence and sexual harassment in public spaces restrict women's freedom of movement, reduce their access to essential services, and negatively impact their health and wellbeing.
In the year 2011 the conviction rate for rape (IPC 376) and sexual harassment (IPC 354) were 4.28% and 3.61% respectively. In 2013 it was 4.44% and 3.077% respectively. Even for one of the most heinous crimes like rape, the conviction rate is very low. If so, one can imagine what might be the situation with smaller cases of crime and assault against women.
IWN met with the police department and women from different walks of life. The following recommendations are a result of the brainstorming sessions and discussions we had with them. Some of the measures here are also for effecting safety in the long run. We have spoken to people; men and women from different strata of society, cutting across different spheres of human activity.
Some of the opinions are based and strengthened from legal jurisprudence. We shall elaborate on the same before presenting the final proposal. We share sincere insights on women and the vulnerabilities they face and the recommendations are the substance of real life discourse and discussions with women folk across different walks of life, spheres of activities and strata of society. It is also a scholarly analysis from eminent legal authors and specialists in this milieu. The recommendations henceforth are the true reflections of what all we women hold for a greatest heritage- Women safety and security.
All efforts to provide women employment and empowerment would be negated if the State fails to provide them adequate safety and security. CII-IWN proposes the following recommendations for transforming the capital city to a women safe city.
The following document focuses on women and the vulnerabilities they face in their day to day lives. The Indian Women Network has come up with a set of recommendations on how women safety and security can be further improved in the capital city and make it a women safe city.
The recommendations focus on the following:
ü Infrastructural upgradations and modifications , especially in public spaces
ü Adoption of suitable technology to ensure timely interventions
ü Introduction of women friendly public transport systems
ü Strengthening the law and order system
ü Fostering support from the general public by engaging them effectively across various levels and sections of the society including educational institutions, corporates, tourists and other stakeholders.
The document has been framed with the understanding that the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of women is a joint one, involving support and coordination from all the stakeholders including the government, the police and other state departments, private organizations, the citizens and importantly, from women themselves also.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND PUBLIC SAFETY
- It is observed that it is imperative to provide clean, covered and safe bathrooms and toilets for women in and around public places like bus stands and railway stations. Public toilets for ladies are quintessential, especially with ladies staff (this is in contrary to the system now where men sit outside ladies toilets).
- The waiting rooms at the railway stations should be safe, under surveillance of the police cameras. It should have women security 24/7.All the platforms should be well lit after dusk.
- Bus shelters should be well lit.
- Street lighting has to be intensified throughout the city, especially in nooks and corners, suburban and rural areas
- Urban design and planning can make an impact on women’s experience of safety. For example, use of spaces for a diversity of purposes is more conducive to the production of safety. The concept of ‘eyes on the street’, as advocated by sociologists like Jacobs, is the only solution to lack of safety, rather than getting people off the streets. Diversity in the use of public spaces is the need of the day.
- Also in this regard, for the existing malls and shopping complexes, CCTV surveillance in the way to the restroom is essential. Proper lights are needed and all doors should have proper latches etc. A female staff near the toilet is required. For long term, the town planning has to note under Corporation rules that toilets have to be located close to the busy areas ,especially when more malls are likely to spring up in future in the road to development.
- Proper protection should be given in public parks and multi level parking areas.
- Access to safe public telephone booths.
1. The innovative use of Information Technology in tools like Safety apps, connected to the control room with GPS is very essential to protect women.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT SAFETY:
1. Strengthening of the public transport system: This safety measure is a multi pronged approach and applies to autos, taxis, buses etc. Buses with surveillance cameras (minimum of two cameras) and woman conductors or guards will instill a sense of confidence and safety for women (MDTS AND IP CAMERAS). This is not only during nights but also during day time. Also, private buses and autos should be brought under this ambit and be under the GPS system. And specific regard at nights (evening 6p.m to midnight) and early morning (from 4 a.m.). There should be special buses (Private and public) with good connectivity among the different routes. This can also be connected to Vanitha police stations.
2. All autos and taxis should have meters which are enabled with GPS and SOS button as in Chennai city etc. The State may provide subsidies for enabling this technology so that the owners are not financially jeopardized. The Honorable State can pass an ordinance for the provision of the same and facilitate an amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act in future.
3. Every bus should have a few panic buttons which alerts the police control room so as to run to a
lady in distress.
4. Airport, railway and bus stations need special focus, especially during odd hours. Also, special fares for taxis etc should be enforced. Otherwise affordability factor might prevent them from opting to a better mode of safety. Vanitha autos also play a critical role and therefore there is a need observed for more number and visibility of Mahila auto rickshaws and taxis across the cities. Nevertheless the safety for women auto drivers should also be given importance whilst they protect others.
POLICE INTERVENTION AND SUPPORT:
1. Police patrol to be intensified. It is better to have them in bikes to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and a wider reach.
2. Activate police stations: For e.g., FIRs have to be properly registered, followed by filing of charge sheet etc and law has to take its due course etc. Every police station should have sufficient police personnel, communication systems should be in place and prompt especially telephones, adequate jeeps etc.
3. Safety should be ensured within the police department from the lowest rungs in the ladder. Recruiting more women in the police service is also a progressive step towards safety and empowerment.
4. During festivals like Onam, women and children have to be given special protection in public areas and thereby be prevented from eve teasing and other crimes. Special Forces should be deployed for protecting women. They should be given proper protection.
5. Women and Child welfare Cops: A special mandate may be brought about to initiate women and child welfare cops. Special attention should be paid to employ morally and physically strong police men for the same.
SENSITISATION AND SENSITIVITY TO WOMEN’S NEEDS:
1. A women protection force from police department will be a progressive idea for law and order situation to improve women’s safety.
2. Ladies police stations are an important need of the hour.
3. Awareness campaign like “walk to health” or “Run Women Run” zones or “walk zones”. Most women are afraid to involve themselves in physical activity and exercise because of lack of safety in the streets, roads and parks. Hence, if streets and junctions are under surveillance, this would go a long way in ensuring a safe, healthy and happy state of mind and body for women. Even in the evenings, proper lighting and other infrastructure are required here. CII IWN can participate and associate in spreading awareness of this campaign .
4. Setting up of online help lines and sharing the details with all the women who could be reached by women if they encounter unsafe situations
5. Movie theatres are a danger zone in Trivandrum and certainly other parts of the State too. There have been several instances of threatening and other crimes associated with it. Movie theatres can have an area allotted to women and also more strict ticket queues that are effective to ensure women are not indecently touched etc. The toilets there and the way to the same have to be well lit and manned by women personnel.
6. Drivers’ orientation is also very relevant and should be certainly implemented.
7. Awareness programmes and workshops have to be given to both men and women on women’s safety, especially in rural and suburban areas. Also education regarding their rights is very important.
8. The institutions and organizations that engage/employ boys and men are to be oriented towards the consequences of crime against women.
9. Training and orientation programmes may be given periodically to private bus drivers, conductors and cleaners. Auto drivers may also be included in this category (This problem is more in the rural areas. In Trivandrum, Valiyasala area is notorious).
10. Gender sensitization through proper education: Educating boys and girls, the need to respect women and safety measures right from schools and colleges (Also as per Verma Committee Report).
11. Empowering a group of able women in rural and suburbs to spread awareness amongst those in
their neighborhoods on the rights of women and how women can ensure their own safety.
12. Huge media support and awareness needed for the campaign-TV, papers, radio.
13. .Have ambassadors for the project like renowned people in respective realms to mobilize and spread awareness, directly, at their areas and spaces and in the media.
14. In areas that are away from the mainstream city, cable TV system of safety can be tried out with the help of remote control buttons or switches to activate the nearby police stations in cases of attacks on women or housebreaking or even when some danger is lurking, as sensed by the lady of the house.
15. Provide self defense training programmes for all women.
16. Pocket book on personal safety and useful tips to mitigate unsafe situations can be printed and
17. Toll free numbers to register such complaints and immediate and stern action against such individuals be launched.
18. Another step in the line of education is that empowered women in towns should help the less fortunate and educate them to help distinguish a bad touch and a good touch.
19. Reverting to the point of education in schools, curriculum should include ways to educate boys on respecting women and treating them as equals. The Government Education department can help in this initiative.
20. Very importantly, fast track courts to punish the culprits should be set up. Apart from the fact, that justice delayed is justice denied, the punitive and deterrent element of a punishment gets diluted. A criminal has to be put to trial immediately so that society will remember.
21. The plight of unorganized sector women is important. Gauging the safety scenario of these women employees who work on daily shift basis on nominal salaries with inadequate legal safeguards is a must. They have to be provided travel and commutation safety to and from the workplace. This also includes the case of smaller format retail outlets. Similarly, areas near slum settlements have to be made safe for women.
WORKING WOMEN, TOURISTS AND STUDENTS:
1. Technopark area-special focus, in all aspects like transportation, police patrolling etc. Strict implementation of policies in companies is required for protecting women working in night shifts. This includes
a) A lady guard in the vehicle which drops them home.
b) A woman should never be dropped last.
In case of mishaps there should be a Local Complaints Committee (LCC) or Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to look into issues pertaining to the same.
2. In areas where there is scanty no of women in the workforce, special focus is needed to ensure women’s safety. However on the other hand, even in areas where workforce is largely women, infrastructure and other support for women’s safety are needed.
3. Migrant women, in quest of job and other vocations need safe accommodation and their movement in the city should be safe and peaceful. The police have to offer them 24x7 help lines to contact during emergencies and Women’s commission may further pursue and take up the matter effectively so as to provide the women in distress justice and prevent or deter similar mishaps in the future (For example, spas and parlours, massage centres etc).
4. Fisherwomen folk, due to their nature of work and odd hours of work have to be guaranteed safety in zones they move about. Also in local markets and night markets, security measures have to be taken for women.
5. In the city, it is observed that in the areas in and around tuition classes, hostels and libraries safety of girl students and women is at stake. Therefore, police scrutiny surveillance and patrolling is essential. Streets and areas near libraries have to be well lit and have police surveillance and patrolling till its closing hours – a very crucial measure to ensure the safety of girl students. Even public libraries and college libraries have to be given guidelines by police and sensitized on safety of women. For university libraries etc, police surveillance is needed.Even toilets are areas that have to be made safer with women staff etc. Even women security (can be appointed by the private institution or the police in public libraries)is essential to walk around even inside the library since it can be secluded between the rows and shelves, at certain hours etc.
6. The safety of women tourists is another aspect that calls for major introspection, this includes,
a) Granting of licenses to hotels and accommodations for women tourists,
b) Employee’s records ad background check should be proper.
c) There should be random checks from the state on a regular basis.
d) In tourist hotspots, there should be more guards, women police stations, and surveillance cameras.
e) Local transportation that includes tourist friendly transport facilities.
f) Basic facilities like safe and clean bathrooms.
g) Tourist helpdesks at airports and railway stations.
h) Routine checks and inspections at hotels and resorts.
i) Speedy justice and immediate penalty for crimes relating to tourist women also.
j) In areas like Poovar, Kovalam, Vizhinjam etc local panchayats have to be activated (as per the provision of Local Panchayati Raj Act) to ensure safe and moral functioning of hotels and resorts in their areas.
1. Vices like alcohol, drugs etc has to be checked to curtail the amount of crimes against women, taking into account the larger picture. Breath analyzers have to be used more effectively.
2. Sex rackets should be busted and whoever promotes supports or protects them should be severely punished to ensure the safety of women.
3. Government should frame a strict policy regarding the structure and functions of the Beverages Corporation. Beverage outlets in the rural areas are a nuisance for the girls and the women who use the pathways nearby or stay near the outlets.
4. Use of drugs is to be totally banned and people who sell or buy drugs should be punished.
1. As there are these many reported crimes, it is evident that there exist many more unreported cases because of fear and social stigma. Therefore IWN considers it a necessity that we present a recommendation to make Trivandrum a safe haven for women. IWN shall undertake an impact analysis of these recommendations.
2. Criminal jurisprudence testifies that sexual violence is an act of power as much as it is a manifestation of a sexual desire. Therefore all the rights of women’s rights have to be respected, protected and fulfilled be it right to property, right to health, education and life with dignity. The law and order, security has to look into these crimes specifically and effectively curb them with an iron hand.
3. Lack of safety prevents women from fully participating in the life of the city. Thus providing safety or finding solutions also need to be observed within a framework of rights. Only then can women access the full range of rights of being a true citizen.
4. We implore and pray that these recommendations are implemented by this honorable State, which will rewrite the destinies of woman kind, thereby protecting their most fundamental freedom as enshrined in the Constitution of India, to make Trivandrum a safe haven for women.
5. Our request to the State to make Thiruvananthapuram a safe city for all, especially women of all age groups and classes. IWN will be extending support, cooperation and assistance to Police and State Departments and administrators in spreading awareness amongst the public on the proposed action plans to develop a safe, secure and women-friendly city. Soliciting a favorable response.
Ms Shereen Navas Ms Rina Vivekanandan
Chairwoman, IWN Kerala Zonal Convener, IWN Trivandrum
Confederation of Indian Industry Confederation of Indian Industry
(Southern Region) Thiruvananthapuram Zonal Office
Kerala State Office No. 2, Golf Links Road, Kowdiar
10th Floor, Nucleus Mall & Office Thiruvananthapuram 695 003
NH 49, Maradu P.O. Cochin – 682 304, Kerala, India. Phone: 0471-3003999
Ph: +91 -484-4012300 | Fax: +91 -484-4012800 Fax : 0471-2438922
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