Posts Tagged ‘delhi’


Didi aapki skin bahaut dull ho gayi hai. Aap paani zyada piya karo.” (sister, your skin is looking very dull, you should drink more water. I wouldn’t have imagined that an ordinary interaction with a midwife would take the turn that it did.

Mujhe toh bahaut pyaas lagi hai, lekin main paani nahi peeti. Poora din idhar se udhar massage ke liye jaati hoon. Bathroom aa gaya toh kahan jaoongi?” (I get thirsty a lot but I don’t drink much water. All day long I visit different homes for my massage appointments. Where will I go to relieve myself if need be?)

On further enquiry, I found out that even though she visits over 8 houses a day, nobody lets her use their washroom. She reminisces about the day she had to urgently use the washroom and the woman she was massaging told her to go to the back alley of her house.

This happened in capital city of India, a booming economy. One can only imagine the bleak conditions in small towns and cities.

In first part of a 2-part write-up,  I am going to talk about the civic amenities (or lack thereof) provided to the citizens of the country. Stay tuned for my next part on class/caste discrimination with focus on women.

According to the reports of 10 out of 12 zones by Municipal Corporation of Delhi, there are 3,712 public toilets for men and only 269 for women. And yet we spot more men defiling the nooks and crannies and even roadsides in the city than women (who travel long routes to find isolated areas to answer nature’s call).

Who can blame these men? Even the existing public toilets in the country are poorly located and in such bad state that one must be extremely shy of public nudity to think of using one. The health of a civic society is strongly dependent on its sanitary condition which is directly linked to public toilets. Over 15 million urban households in the country do not have toilets.

Devinder Sehrawat of Delhi Gramin Samaj states, “while the Corporations may rattle out any number of figures, they do not reflect the reality of rural areas on the ground. Out of the total 1,483 sq.km area of Delhi, over 500 sq.km with a population of over 30 lakh and covering 360 villages is thus bereft of such facilities.” In South Delhi Municipal Corporation, there are about 500 toilets but most of them are concentrated in commercial areas. Entire rural belt of Delhi stretching from Badarpur border in South-East to Narela in the north does not have even a single public toilet.

Sanitation facilities for women in other states are equally bad; Sanitation is a matter of health and dignity for women. Existence of public and personal toilets affect women’s ability to work, their mobility and their safety. Even Mahatma Gandhi said that sanitation is more important than independence.

Inadequate sanitation facilities render women in both urban and rural areas vulnerable to sexual violence who then have to squat in open areas, inviting sexual assault, harassment and murders. Lack of toilets as well as low maintenance of those existing create health hazards for women. In many instances, it also leads to larger number of girl drop-out rate in schools.

  • Lack of access to toilets causes girls aged 12 to 18 to miss around five days of school per month, or around 50 school days per year, according to the 2011 Annual Status of Education Report released by minister of human resource development.
  • A national survey conducted by AC Nielsen and NGO Plan India in 2012 found that 23% girls drop out of school after reaching puberty.
  • In Bihar, 872 cases of rape were reported till November 2012. “Roughly 40% to 45% of the incidents took place with the women when they went out of their homes to defecate in the open,” states Arwind Pandey, Bihar police’s IG for weaker sections.
  • An RTI filed in July 2012 revealed that the BMC has not set up a single separate toilet for women in Mumbai, while  there are 2,849 toilets for men.
  • A 2012 study on drinking water and sanitation by the WHO and UNICEF reveals that 626 million people in India do not have a closed toilet. It’s the world’s highest number, far ahead of Indonesia, which ranks second at just 63 million.

For a clearer picture, refer to this table from Baseline Survey 2012: All India Abstract Report:

BSL-Survey-All-India-Report

However, lately there is an increased awareness for need for better water, health and sanitation facilities in the country. Many initiatives, programmes and policies have been launched to ensure more urban and rural households install personal toilets for benefit of both men and women.

A PIL was filed by advocate Ashok Aggarwal highlighting the shortage of toilets for women in Delhi. The High Court has sought the presence of  member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board on August 6 and has even asked NDMC and Delhi Cantonment Board to file status report. [http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-16/delhi/39309334_1_public-toilets-status-report-division-bench]

Four years ago, the Haryana government started its ‘No Toilet, No Bride’ campaign, painting walls across the state with the slogan: “I won’t allow my daughter to marry into a home without toilets.” In just one year (2011), 330 gram panchayats have been turned into ‘nirmal gram’ or clean villages. [http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-slogan-boosts-sanitation-in-haryana/article3364896.ece]

The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has earmarked Rs 3 crore for setting up new public toilets to make Pune ‘open-defecation free’. [http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pcmc-to-upgrade-public-toilet-facility/1082365/]

35 NGOs in Mumbai launched The “Right to Pee” campaign in 2012 to collect as many signatures as possible to demand better public bathroom facilities for women and then present their case to the city’s civic authority, 50 percent of which is made up of women. Supriya from CORO, an organization under Right to Pee says, “we have surveyed 129 toilet blocks , did signature campaigns on 16 railway stations , organized workshops , met experts to understand the issue in depth, and submitted 50,000 signatures and analytic survey report to BMC.” She also reiterates about their experience in dealing with the authorities at BMC who claim that they have to charge women for using public toilets since they are not sure if women actually use the toilets for ‘urination or something else’.  Their campaign is actively working to improve situation of women.  [http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/right-to-pee-campaign-launches-women-restrooms-india]

One remarkable success story in recent times is that of a strong-willed woman in Odisha whose efforts resulted in 98% toilet coverage in a small village of Sagada in Puri. [http://www.indiasanitationportal.org/16817]

It must be a priority of the government and civic authorities to provide for better sanitary conditions to the people. Public toilets are as important as road, transport and communication infrastructure for growth and development of a State.

We could learn a lot from linfen, a Chinese city which only till a few years back was stated as one of the worst places in the world to live in. The local government began a ‘Toilet Revolution’ back in 2008 and built 200 public toilets in and around the city, increasing living condition, health and sanitation of its people. So much so that Linfen was awarded with UN-Habitat’s International Best Practice Award for the Asia and Pacific region.

Adequate sanitation is vital for social development as it boosts good health resulting in lower drop-out rates in girls studying in schools. Therefore it is a good investment as for ‘every 10% increase in female literacy, a country’s economy can grow by 0.3 percent. Educated girls are more likely to raise healthy, well-nourished, educated children, to protect themselves from exploitation and AIDS and to develop skills to contribute to their societies.’ – UNICEF

More toilets, coupled with better policing can control incidents of crime against women, specially in rural areas. We should start urging civic authorities in our areas to construct more easily accessible public toilets for both men and women for a cleaner, healthier and happier environment.

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Guest post by Monica Sarkar, a freelance journalist and writer. Original post at http://missinterpreting.com:

The tragic case of the Delhi gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman last year forced India to take a long, hard look at itself in the mirror and decide how to change.

Or rather, the citizens looked at the government and judiciary system and made it reconsider how it deals with the abuse of its women.

But let’s not forget one thing: violence against women is a crime the world over. Alongside the stories emanating from India, there have also been reports of gang rapes in Mexico, Brazil andSouth Africa.

In war torn countries such as Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, sexual violence is used as a weapon of war – even after a ceasefire is declared.

And it isn’t restricted to the developing world; in the UK, approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year.

Society’s fabric drapes mens’ shoulders

Patriarchal beliefs, sometimes subtle and other times misogynic, are woven into the fabric of many societies that hold down women and drape the shoulders of men.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states: “…violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.”

Perhaps there has been more noise about the incidents in India because, out of sheer frustration and anger, its citizens have taken to the streets and are shouting about them too.

So when you hear or read of such tragic tales from India, I hope you don’t just point your finger, shake your head and think this is India’s problem. Because violence against women is likely to be happening on your soil, but your attention is on another land.

But we need to be aware; a link has even been suggested between the abuse of women and international violence. The study, entitled “Heart of the Matter,” in the Harvard-published journalInternational Security, concluded that the best predictor of societies’ peacefulness is how well they safeguard the interests of women. Therefore, mistreat women and you mistreat the world.

Yes, India’s rape problem is alarming. But look at your own country, look at your people, look at yourself: how do you treat your women and how do you need to change?


Guest post by Veena Venugopal, a Delhi based journalist and author of the book ‘Would You Like Some Bread With That Book’. She is a contributing writer for Mint and Quartz:

 

To me, the most memorable scene in ‘Dev D‘ is the one where Paro takes a mattress from home and ties it to her cycle. When she reaches the edge of the field, she abandons the cycle, lifts the mattress on her shoulder and marches to the clearing where she lays it down and waits for her lover. There are no words spoken and the camera holds her face close. Her expression is one of intense seriousness. You can see her desire is a field force of intensity that fuels every step. She is determined to see it through, to let that desire take over herself completely; not surrender to it but to let it explode out of her. You know that when she meets Dev, the sex would be passionate and powerful.  And yet, in the south Delhi multiplex where I was watching the film, most of the audience burst into rapacious laughter. The women smiled embarrassedly at each other. Which made me wonder, why is female desire a laughing matter?

I thought back to the movie and that scene because even now, in the last seven weeks that we have talked about sex, sexuality, power, passion and crime, we are still, yet to talk about female desire. In the conversations about rape that we have had, there have been infinite references to provocation. That if women dress a certain way, they are “asking for it.” To my mind, what this means is that men don’t know when we are really asking for it. Because if I was “asking for it”, it would be a lot more than showing cleavage, or leg. If I am asking for it, dude, you will know it.

When did desire become a male privilege? There is so little conversation about a woman’s desire for sex that a lot of people simply assume it doesn’t exist. A Times of India article last month starts with this surprising headline, Women too have high sex drive. Did you not know that?  To my mind, understanding that there is such a thing as female desire is essential to knowing how we behave. There has, rightly, been a call for the Indian film industry, especially Bollywood, to introspect how it depicts its women. The whole “chhed-chhad” business, the near stalker-ish behavior that hindi film heroes indulge in does influence how men on the streets behave. That it gives that boorishness credibility. And eventually, the girl succumbs. What is important to the girl, it suggests, is acceptance. She does not desire. She does not chase. She does not acknowledge, even to herself, that she wants this man. She gives in, relents, submits.

Truth is, female desire is as much a brute force as male desire. Sometimes it takes us by surprise, often we relent to it. Some of us take risks to indulge in our desire. Some of us fight it, telling ourselves why this particular one is not good for us. It occurs to us just as randomly as it does to men. When we watch a movie, read a book, walk down the street, see someone hot, at the pub drinking, at the temple praying. Sometimes we fabricate it, filling our head with fantasies. Sometimes we deny it. Sometimes we fake it. Sometimes it’s a coiled spring. Sometimes it’s a warm breeze. But what is important for you to know is that we feel it. We know what it is.

In an early episode of Girls, one of the characters reads from a dating manual. “Sex from behind is degrading. He should want to look at your beautiful face,” she reads. To which the other asks, “what if I want something different? What if I want to feel like I have udders?” Because, you know, sometimes we do. In Saudi Arabia, where laughably a lot of people seem to think there are no rapes because women are “properly attired”, the intense segregation of the sexes makes us turn our desires to other women. Don’t believe me? Read Seba Al-Herz’s book, The Others. Because no matter what you believe, you can’t put a burqa on a thought or wrap a hijab around a feeling.

We probably don’t talk about what we desire enough. But we certainly think about it. So this will probably come as a surprise to you. When you proposition us, on the road, in the bus, or at a movie theatre, and we say no, we are not saying that we don’t feel any desire. We are simply saying that it’s not you who we desire.

 


This is a guest post by a guy who wants to put across a very strong point. Let NO mean NO, and not “try harder”. A must read for all girls-

No means No

First, let me tell you about myself.

I am your average guy. I come from a middle class family. I worked hard to clear my exams. I have a well paying job. I have travelled to Europe on many occasions. I love gadgets. I love cars. I love movies. I love girls.

I am decent looking. I am charming. I have had many girlfriends.

I am also a rapist.

Now that I have your attention, please read through the entire blog post before you judge me.

All this talk about rape being the fault of the victim has gotten me thinking. Who in their right mind can make a disgusting claim like that? Will we eventually start hearing people say that the victims of 26/11 were at fault for the massacre? Will earthquake victims of Bhuj be blamed for the earthquake?

Bottom line: I think whoever puts even an iota of the blame of a rape on the victim is plain stupid.

But.

But…

And this is a very sensitive “but” – and I completely understand the implications of what I am about to say, hence the double disclaimer – I also think there are things girls can do to avoid such incidents.

I know feminists will want to hunt me down and castrate me just for suggesting this, but please read the entire post before you judge me.

Personally, I believe that every individual has a duty towards self-preservation, so discussing these ideas is not counter-productive to getting the debate going forward on how men should change their mindset. The menace of sexual assault is so disturbing that we need to find solutions across multiple dimensions. Getting men to re-wire their brain is one such dimension. Getting women to be careful is another dimension. They are not mutually exclusive.

Enough has been written about what girls can do (or should not do) to avoid putting themselves in such dangerous situations. I am not going to repeat any of that here. What I do want to touch upon is something that I have never seen mentioned anywhere.

Maintaining the sanctity of the word NO.

This is where I must digress to my personal experience. I have dated a lot of women. I have slept with a lot of them too. I am not trying to brag, please understand that I am trying to make a point here. Having been that intimate with many women, I have what many of you would call data-points. That would not be my first choice of words, I don’t treat women as objects or numbers, but I am trying to make a point here. So please keep up.

Women that I have known for a long time, that I have even been intimate with, who have even confessed they love those moments of passion with me, tend to play a very dangerous game of “hard-to-get” with me. This is where they pretend they are not interested in sex, or make me work hard to “get” them. I say pretend because they readily accept later that they did want to get intimate with me just as much as I did, but the “game” is either an “adaa” of theirs, or a moral defense mechanism to avoid guilt later, or a way to show they are not really the “fast” kind. Either ways, if it has happened with me, I can assure you it has happened with many people out there.

I call this game dangerous because of the kind of precedent is sets. It essentially says that all that “NO” was a big farce. It tells a guy that NO does not really mean NO. That it just means you need to try harder. (You see where I am going with this?)

I look back at my experience with girls, and this shocking trend emerges. I see self made sex movies on the Internet of people and this trend becomes stronger. You may remember there was a sex scandal on the JNU campus that broke. Everyone talked about it. Many actually watched it. What no one pointed out in that video was that for the first 3 minutes or so, the girl (apparently already in a physical relationship with the guy) kept pushing the guy away. She vehemently keeps saying no. She ends up using all her physical strength to defend herself. So much so, that the guy had to eventually get violent just to “get” the girl. Shockingly, once the guy “gets” her, the girl is seeing enjoying the experience, even encouraging him to go further, almost as if the NO meant absolutely nothing. This is very similar to many home made sex videos you will find on the Internet. This sadly, must even be very true of what happens in many bedrooms across our country. In each of these situations, guys are being given the wrong message and the sanctity of NO being systematically destroyed.

Western civilizations take such NO very seriously. As a guest in a westerners home, if you say NO to another helping of their delicious pasta, you can be sure you won’t be asked again. Contrast that with India, where saying NO is probably the first response by default. Here, the host is expected to “fight through” your NO to come across as being genuinely hospitable. Combine that basic sense of “manners” with the dangerous “game” some women play and you have the beginnings of rape – specifically date rape.

This leads me to the point I am trying to make in this post. Of the many things we’re trying to do to reduce the incidents of rape, somewhere we need to start educating women to uphold the sanctity of NO. Let guys not be confused even in the slightest way about what the NO really means. It has always, and should always, mean JUST  NO.

Let women make this promise to their partners, they will say NO only when they really mean it. Let guys be clear with their partners, even a subtle NO will make them step back so their partners should be very clear about what message they send out.

Sure the timeless “adaa” of playing hard to get suffers, but atleast we get to see some real results on the ground. A fairly large percentage of date rape cases (sorry I don’t have numbers, I am just sharing my experience here) are attributed to an assumption that the girl didn’t seriously mean to say NO, she just said it because that is what she usually says in such situations. If even a fraction of those rapes can be avoided, I say it’s okay to wipe our hands clean of that “adaa” in the larger interest.

Sure there will many cases of rape where the animal inside just takes over, and these kinds of precautions won’t be of any use. But the one in a billion case of date rape that can be avoided because of this mindset change merits that kind of attention.

I for one have decided to change my moral bearings now. If a woman says NO even playfully, I will stop.


Guest post by Ankit Gupta, a social activist and avid blogger at Indian Survivor Federation: 

After Delhi gang rape case every Indian wants a solution and demand strongest step against culprits. Now It’s not about a one case or two. It’s about “how to curb India`s rape culture” because on the one side people are asking for justice everywhere in a country for the victims but sadly at a very same time these crimes take places on the other part of country.

Now every one asking following questions :
How to curb rape cases?

How to decrease the incidents of Eve Teasing?
How to create safe public spaces, where women and girls can move freely?

Here we are sharing few suggestions that can play a key role to use and access public spaces and services fearlessly for girls, women and every Common Indians.

In era of 3G, we are capable to decrease physical abuse and criminal activities in public spaces of metropolitan cities with the help of latest technology. Most of the time culprit thinks that “Nobody can catch me and I will never be identifying for my heinous crime”. But that’s not true, it is actually possible to identify these culprits and decrease the number of crimes that take place in our country. For all that we need to set up CCTV Surveillance Network in our city as use in London.
Mumbai, July 6, 2012: Mumbai police on
Friday released CCTV footage of a man
kidnapping a child in full public view at
Chattrapati Shivaji Station.
In our country, CCTV cameras are already in use in many cities at Bus stand, railway station, road crossing, toll plaza, high security area, etc. In some city CCTV camera also installed in local buses and local trains.But unfortunately, the number of CCTV cameras installed at public place is not enough. 

We know that CCTV Surveillance Network may help us to catch culprits of rape, eve teasing, chain snatching, bag lifting, hit & run cases, kidnapping, murder, terror attacks and many more. 
According to the crime rate we need a CCTV Surveillance Network with large number of CCTV camera as used in UK. We need a Centralize Control Center that helps us to control criminal activities in real time.
(CCTV + High Tech Control Center + Help line Number + Active Police) = Safe City
To know how successful CCTV Surveillance Network just type “CCTV Network in London” or “CCTV surveillance network in UK” on any popular search engine site. You will find an eye opener statics that describe the success story of CCTV Network.
If we follow CCTV Surveillance system as used in London, then with the help of centralize control room, CCTV Surveillance Network can be used very dynamically not only for decrease crime rate even it helps us to controlling traffic to prevent traffic Jam and plays an important role to send aid for road accident injured in minimum time.
After 26/11 Mumbai Incident, Honorable Home minister R R Patil with high-profile delegation visited London on September, 2011 for three days to study the city’s integrated intelligence and CCTV surveillance network. And then an ambitious plan created to install a network of 5,000 CCTV cameras in Mumbai. To read more please click following link :
After much delay in executing the ambitious project, the Maharashtra government on 26 September, 2012 invited fresh tenders for the Rs 864-crore cover plan for Mumbai. To read more please click following links :
Unfortunately red tapism and careless nature become a main cause of delaying cover plan for Mumbai with CCTV.
In last few years various state government spent lots of money on parks, museums and many other city decoration plans but unfortunately they don’t take seriously an ambitious plan “To cover metropolitan cities with CCTV surveillance network”.
At this point of time when every single human is asking for justice for the 23 year old victim the Government of India seriously thinks about various options to take the strongest step against rapists and working hard to decrease rape cases.
We request to Government of India please take necessary steps to cover every nook and corner of all metropolitan cities with CCTV surveillance network and pass a sufficient budget for CCTV surveillance in next budget 2013.
We also appeal to all Indians , police, social workers please demand to state government an action plan for covering metropolitan cities with CCTV surveillance network. 
(CCTV + High Tech Control Center + Help line Number + Active Police) = Safe City 
It may be possible that due to lack of sufficient budget some state government will show their inability to establish CCTV surveillance network in every metropolitan city because it is very expensive to follow the city’s integrated intelligence and CCTV surveillance network of London. Only in London there are more than 4 lac CCTV cameras. 
We have few suggestions to fight insufficient budget problem.
First Suggestion:
As we all know that Metro train project is also an ambitious and very expensive. To create a metro train track in all over Delhi city this project has been divided into various stages. In the last decade, the number of metro tracks has been increased after completing various stages and shows its success story.
Another example of Cable TV Digitization in all over India project has also been divided in various stages. In first phase of cable TV digitization done in only in 4 metro city and now second phase is about to start in various cities. 
Covering all metropolitan cities with CCTV surveillance network project also can be divided in various stages. For example:
1. Cover all road crossing
2. Cover all public places (govt. office, bus stop, taxi & auto stand, school/college/institute gate, mall, park, etc.)
3. Cover all public transport (bus, train, taxi, cab, auto, etc.)
4. Cover all colony main gate, gali and mahola
5. Finally cover every nook and corner of city  
Second Suggestion:
We know that government of India to running various education schemes charge Education cess at 2% and Secondary and higher education cess at 1% on income-tax, service tax, etc.
To cover all metropolitan cities with CCTV surveillance network within a record time government of India think to charge a security tax (cess) for a limited period only in metropolitan cities. 
Third Suggestion: 
Joint Venture of Government of India and Common Indian
Add a fix charge in an electricity bill for a limited period only in metropolitan cities. For example:
      0 – 50   electricity unit Nell
     50-100   electricity units Rs. 10   per month
   100-150   electricity units Rs. 15   per month
   150-200   electricity units Rs. 20   per month
   200-500   electricity units Rs. 50   per month
  500-1000  electricity units Rs. 80   per month
1000-1500  electricity units Rs. 100 per month
1500- 2000 electricity units Rs. 150 per month
And above Rs. 250 per month
Now it depends on us how we create safe public spaces, where women can move freely and use and access public spaces and services fearlessly.
At the end we want to share question of “A Wednesday” movie in different word:
“Ye Guwahati me, Delhi me, bus me, train me, ye sabi rape ke case nahi hai, ye ek Bahot Bada sawal hai aur wo sawal ye hai ki bhai hum to yunhi rape or eve teasing karte rahenge tum kya kar loge. Yes they asked this question.”
Now the time has come to answer them…