The Global Urbanist: A Woman’s Right to Enjoy the City
Home to 5.5 million women, Mumbai is considered one of the most modern, cosmopolitan and safe cities for women in India. Yet, not a day goes by without news of a woman of any age or class being molested, attacked, sexually harassed, compromised or violated in some way. With recent debate spurred by the incident in Delhi of a 23-year-old girl being mob-raped in a moving bus then beaten and left to die, it is important to question the forces that lead to this reprehensible behaviour against women and how much of it is facilitated by planned and unplanned urban spaces.
The phenomenon of women keeping away from public spaces because of physical threat is common in India. Growing up in Mumbai, I had internalised this as second nature, allowing it to determine what my movement through the city would be. Stay indoors after dark; move in herds of friends or male company, or at least in the company of a known person; always be on guard in public, especially on public transport; and later, keep questioning whether the groping, letching, staring, or whistling was accidental or intentional. This kind of covert, negotiated presence in public space is true for most Indian women. Each has devised their own compromised mode of urban movement whether it’s to the office, college or merely going out.
Link to the full article at Global Urbanist, here.
This article first appeared on The Global Urbanist on February 26th, 2013.