On 24th October 2017, UN WOMEN held a one day National Consultation on ‘Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces’. The organization invited NGOs from across the country working on the topic of Safe Cities. In tandem with the government initiative of making 100 cities smart in India; the stakeholders through their program interventions are auditing the capacities of cities to transform itself within the government’s timeline and as per its expectations. Centre for Social Research (CSR) was one of the invitees to the Consultation. The agenda of the UN WOMEN hosted National Consultation was to brainstorm on certain aspects that define the extent smartness and safety. These parameters considered urban planning / public space designs, public infrastructure, public transport, law enforcement, access to education, civic awareness and participation. Apart from CSR, participants represented other esteemed civil society organizations of Breakthrough, Pravah, Safetipin, She Says, Gaon Connection etc. Along with the team of UN WOMEN India, Ms. Sanya Seth, Ms. Anju Dubey Pandey and Ms. Krati Singh; Ms. Pam Rajput presided over the Consultation for the day.
UN WOMEN identifies the issue of Safe Cities as critical one considering the increasing crimes against women that happen in the public place domain. “Women and girls experience multiple and different forms of violence and harassment in public spaces; staring and leering to stalking and sexual assault are common phenomenon of their everyday life. Studies show that almost 60 percent women reported feeling unsafe in public spaces. The lack of safety has far reaching consequences for women and girls. Evidence indicates that harassment of girls in their neighborhoods, or while they are on their way to school, results in their dropping out of school. Experiences of violence in everyday settings lead to feelings of despair and fear. It is not only the actual experience of violence, but also the fear of it that impede women’s and girls’ equal ‘right to the city’. Women and girls often take ‘precautionary’ steps in their daily lives to protect themselves from violence; avoiding dark areas, keeping away from places, or dressing conservatively – these underline the reality that curtails their mobility.”
In line with the aforementioned statement of purpose, CSR participated in the Consultation as Expert on Police Training for Safe Cities. On the topic of law enforcement, CSR with other representative organizations suggested that there is a requirement for data on crimes against women that can influence gender budgeting for public infrastructure to make cities safer. Other feedback points that were given to UN WOMEN included increased female police officials, boosting reaction time of the police to reported crimes, holistic crisis centres for victims, establishment of womens’ courts, implementation of laws for women and their monitoring mechanism and fine-tuning National Policy for Women.
Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) in the 6th year of its association with Centre for Social Research (CSR) has partnered on projects related to Water Conservation and Gender Mainstreaming projects, Safe Cities Project and Gender Sensitization of multiple stakeholders. As part of the Safe Cities Project last year, we undertook trainings of the Police Officials in the states of Karnataka and Jammu Kashmir. This year (2017), CSR completed police trainings in the state of Manipur and Pondicherry.