Poor safeguard of women in Kochi a cause of concern

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rape_8_1_1_0_0_1_0_4KOCHI: Kochi, despite all its development  does not score high where  safety of women is concerned as a safety audit conducted by Sakhi Women’s Resource Centre, Thiruvananthapuram,  using a mobile application aptly called, ‘Safetipin,’ has found it wanting on several counts.

The city scored low in four safety parameters for women such as presence of visible security personnel  and gender diverse spaces but scored  high  in availability of public transport, lighting and crowd.

The audit was done by a team of  four men and nine women – all college students in  the 19 to 30 age group – over a four-month period from July to October.  As many as 30 localities in the city were each subjected to 25 audits.

The survey concluded that most parts of the city, including major roads and junctions, lack visible security personnel and security is meagre even in busy places like the Marine Drive, Vyttila, Kaloor, Ernakulam South and Palarivattom, with no private or public security personnel  within reach.

Women auditors themselves had to fend off  attempts at harassment  after dark and also witnessed moral policing.  The audit found lack of proper footpaths and inadequate gender diversity (presence of women in public places)  contributed to the unsafe environment for women in the city.

It also found a significant variation in the level of safety during the day and night with all safety parameters becoming poorer after dark.  Despite good public transport, the city was mostly unsafe for women at this time, it said.

Hailing the study, women activists say it can be useful for urban policy planners to address the problem of gender discrimination in public spaces. It could help make urban planning inclusive and heterogeneous ,in their view.

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