The news of gangrape of a 19-year-old woman in Gurugram earlier this week sent shockwaves across the national capital region. People were further enraged by the fact that the rapists also killed her 8-month-old baby by throwing her on the road. Although this was not the first incident that dents the reputation of Indian cities for being unsafe for women, this particular incident has once again started the discussion about how safe the millennium city Gurugram is for women. According to police records, until June 2 since the beginning of the year, there have been 52 rape cases, including nine gang rape cases were reported in the city. Apart from this, more than 100 cases of molestation and 45 cases under Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) have been registered.
The streets of Grugram’s residential and commercial areas see many professional women travelling across the city to their respective workplaces every day. At the same time, there are women who stay at home and move out in necessity. Both the groups are equally vulnerable to the gazes of the assaulters who roam around fearlessly, despite government’s claims of taking all security measures for women. Here are major reasons why Gurugram is counted among one of the most unsafe cities to live in especially for women.
1. Gurgaon Police, Where’s that?
With a meagre 3,767 policemen which include DCPs, ACPs and other higher rank officers, who largely operate from their offices, more than 15 lakh people are told that they are safe. If we go by the population and police ration, there is 1 policeman in Gurgaon over 445 people. If we go deep into the nuances of these numbers, the number of cops available for containing the crime of the city would further shrink as the given also includes traffic police which only manages the traffic.
“The city has grown by leaps and bounds and police is not adequate numbers. This is one of the reasons why the crime rate is increasing in the city. I believe the number of policemen in the city should be enhanced massively in order to contain the crime. I would recommend the increase in strength of police in Gurugram,” said Rekha Sharma, Member of National Commission For Women (NCW) who visited Gurugram in wake of this rape case.
2. Absence of round-the-clock and last-mile public transport
No matter what you call this city, but there is hardly any public transport available to the masses. You are mistaken if you assume that since the city boast of having Metro and Rapid Metro, everything is sorted as far as public transport is concerned. There are many areas in the city that are still devoid of connectivity, particularly for the lower income group people.
Beyond HUDA city centre which is last stop of the metro, one is on her own and she can only get autos and most of these autos are shared autos where they get rub your shoulders with 10 other unknown people.
“Once you are out of Metro, you don’t have any other mode of public transport to reach your office. You are only left with one option-autos. If take these yellow-green autos, they charge you a lot of money even for smaller distances and if you prefer shared autos which take only Rs 10 for one given route, than You get to travel with 10 or sometimes more individuals who not only stare at you but sometimes intentionally or unintentionally touch you. Gurgaon is a mess as far as public transport and women safety is concerned,” said Pratibha, a management professional.
3. Poorly lit streets and vacant spaces
In 2016, a safety research was conducted by a think tank Safetipin, in Gurugram, in which more that 1200 spots were identified where women don’t feel safe at all and hallowed Gold Course Road was among the most unsafe.
The streets in sectors, whether it’s the sectors build by government body HUDA or private builders, almost all of them are poorly lit which again puts a woman returning home late in jeopardy.
4. The rural-urban divide
Though Gurugram is considered to be highly urban, after every four-five urbanised colonies, malls and other amenities lie a village that has turned into ghettoes. The urban and rural divide in the city is so stark that people living in respective areas don’t gel at all.
Urban Gurugram is comprised of people from across India where the village has locals who lives here centuries and they both look at each other suspicion and distrust.
“We are locals and seldom talk with our neighbours who live in condominiums on the land who owned once. Many times, I have been told the most of the people who came from outside and settled in Gurgaon believe that locals who live in villages which now have fallen within their sectors are inhabited by anti-social elements who might harm them,” said Sandeep Yadav, a resident of Kanhai village in New Gurgaon.
For example, MG Road is one of the most famous places in Gurgaon, but right behind the galore of malls, metro and other souvenirs of Gurugram that make many other satellite cities envy lies Chakkarpur, a former village which now has been turned into a ghetto. Those who couldn’t afford to live in costly condominiums prefer these villages to live and that’s why these villages are now run on rent economy.
“I accept there is a divide. We feel threatened by their presence and I know they don’t like us either. This has to go if Gurugram ever wants to be the city in unison,” said Dhruv Sachdev, a resident of sector-28, Gurgaon.