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That Delhi is India's rape capital is a fact repeatedly stressed by crime statistics, but recent studies show safer streets could help to make the city safer for women. Research by Jagori, with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, shows that wider pavements offer women more manoeuvring room when challenged.
Another survey showed 42% women were harassed while waiting for public transport. "We have suggested sites for hawkers near bus stops to ensure these areas are not isolated," says Kalpana Viswanath of Gender Inclusive Cities Programme.
The latest official crime statistics confirms what everybody know s about Delhi: that it is India's rape capital. But recent studies show that by tweaking urban design and infrastructure - something as simple as ensuring wider pavements and closing cigarette shops near busstops - could make Delhi safer for women. Other measures, like ensuring safer public transport and busy streets, could come later.
Recall recurring incidents of women being pulled into moving cars and stalked on streets, where wider pavements could offer women an escape route. When women are confronted by a group of men walking towards them on a narrow pavement, they often step onto the road to escape being brushed past, leaving them vulnerable to passing cars and men on two-wheelers. Wider pavements would offer more room to manoeuvre.
Research by Jagori, an organization studying gender and space in Delhi, along with the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, shows that women feel unsafe and have repeatedly reported incidents of sexual harassment on the dug-up, poorly-lit pavements around Delhi University (North Campus). The result: women do not stay late in the library or laboratories, even though these facilities are open in the evening. Improving the infrastructure around the campus would automatically ensure women access these resources.