We form our lives around public spaces: the parks where our children play, the streets where we buy our vegetables, the trains and buses that we take to work, the markets where we catch up on local news.
However, the right to access public space is not equal. A 2012 study found that 92 percent of women had experienced sexual violence in public spaces, and that 88 percent of women had experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime in New Delhi. Each of us can likely think of an instance where a women’s safety was compromised in a public space. Across gender, class, caste, and age, we have heard stories of parts of our communities being excluded from our public spaces - whether it’s our metro, our buses, or our streets – and thus excluded from the fabric of our democracy.
The government infrastructure is yet to go beyond talk and lawmaking to ensuring accountability of local authorities on the issue. Several studies in the capital have revealed the dismal lack of confidence in the police to curb harassment. Only 0.8% reported untoward incidents to authorities.
We all have the right to our city. And we’re tired of blaming and complaining – we stand for equality, respect, inclusiveness, and collective power. We all deserve safety and dignity – it’s up to us to create the shifts in our governments and communities that create it. In response to the escalating intolerance, we launched our campaign for equal access to public spaces in Delhi challenging the cultural and sexist power structures and mindsets whilst ensuring local police and planning bodies are more accountable and responsive by ensuring equal access for women. Each one of us is here to keep the police accountable for women’s safety – and to make sure our community members converge to make us all safe and free. We began our efforts to reclaim public spaces in New Delhi in 2014.
Currently, we are hosting community building events and helping build momentum around the issue of women’s access to public spaces. We have organized more than 20 public meetings in the community to have solution centric deliberation on equal and free access in the area and reached out to 400 people through door-to-door canvassing, people sabhas& mini-discussions.
Have an idea about organizing people around this issue? In the past we’ve used cartoon workshops, art workshops and street plays and are now looking for suggestions on replicable and scalable ideas. If you’ve got ideas, we’ve got a platform! Drop us a mail with your idea and someone will shortly get in touch with you!
Location : Delhi, India
Address : R Block, R-84, Khirki Extension, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi- 110017, India