No, Mr Home Minister, women do not feel safe in Uttar Pradesh

“Crime in India- 2020”, a report by the National Crime Records Bureau, stated that a total of 49,385 crimes against women were committed in Uttar Pradesh last year

Representative photo: crime against women
Representative photo: crime against women

Garima Sadhwani

Last week, Union Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that Uttar Pradesh is now so safe that 16-year old girls can roam around wearing jewellery at 12 in the night, and not have to fear for their safety.

But “Crime in India- 2020”, a report by the National Crime Records Bureau, stated that a total of 49,385 crimes against women were committed in Uttar Pradesh last year. So, the data published by his own government doesn't seem to align with the home minister's claim. The women of the state too echo fears that contradict his claim.

Sania Halim, a postgraduate student, shares that she consciously tries to avoid using public transport. She says, “When I've my own conveyance, at the back of my head I know I can quickly escape from a risky situation if something ever happens.” And even when she has her scooty, Halim says she tends to start worrying and “stop feeling safe when the clock reaches 8 and I’m really far away from home.”

Charu, a doctor from Lucknow, agrees. She prefers either using her own vehicle or the metro for travelling, but in case she’s ever taking a cab, auto or walking alone, she’s constantly on the phone with her family, and shares her live location with them.

Halim nods. She says, “Whenever my friends are travelling alone in a cab or even going home alone ‘late at night’, which is usually at around 7:30 or 8 pm for us girls, they tend to call me up to keep them some sort of company in order to feel safer.”

And no, these are not made-up fears. Charu says that a few of her acquaintances have been elbowed inappropriately by men in public transport. She adds that in the past, a biker has also attempted to snatch her wallet in an area with no street lights while she was on a rickshaw at around 8 pm in the evening.

Mansi Agarwal, who is in her early twenties, shares that she’s been cat-called multiple times. Halim has been a victim of this too. She says that though she tries to ignore these situations, and escape quickly, such occurrences are quite common. “I personally have been subjected to cat-calling a few times, and incidents like people intentionally brushing up against you,” she adds.

Such events often affect the mental health of the victims. Halim says that one of her closest friends was “disturbed” for a long time after some stalker kept following her in her own colony. Charu feels the same. She says that she can never be completely relaxed or “roam about feeling secure”. She has to remain cautious and ready in case something happens, like chain-snatching, eve-teasing or abduction.

The one thing that Charu, Agarwal and Halim unanimously agree on is that being “safe” in Uttar Pradesh is a far-fetched dream as of now.

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