More developing, more unsafe

While the city may be set on the track to fast development, it is becoming increasingly unsafe for women who are now targeted more than before, says the Centre for Gender, Development and Ecology (Samanwayam), an NGO, which has carried out a study with the support of UN Women under its “Safe city free of violence against women and girls” initiative.

The study, intended to identify and understand the factors that impact women’s safety in public spaces and dealing with them effectively to increase their sense of security, was done in February last within the corporation area.

The stydy concentrated on diverse groups of men and women , dwelling on their experiences in different parts of the city both at night and during the day.

The five groups selected for Focus Group Discussions (FGD) included Kudumbasree CDS members, college students, self- employed women, women members of residents’ associations and auto drivers.

“Women face safety issues in all cities of the state but the roads in Kochi are more unsafe for them, especially near the KSRTC bus station and south railway station,” said Sr. Mariamma J Kalathil of Centre for Gender, Development and Ecology (Samanwayam)

Similar studies have been conducted in major metros like Delhi and Mumbai by Jagori, a women's rights group.

Corporation wakes up

The civic authorities are finally waking up to the fact that the city's streets are unsafe for women even during the day and are looking for ways to remedy the situation.

To begin with mayor Tony Chammany will hold a meeting on May 21 with representatives of various women's right groups to draw up an action plan to make the city safer for women.

Also invited to the meet is Jagori, a women's rights group from Delhi, perhaps to provide a wider perspective on the issue.

Additionally, a meeting of various stakeholders, people’s representatives and officials will be conducted in June on the same theme, says deputy mayor, B. Bhadra.

“We will also ensure that there are clean and safe toilet facilities for women in the city,” she promises.
Various NGOs are, meanwhile, calling for immediate measures like introducing helplines for women in distress and a mechanism for speedy redressal of their complaints.

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