WOMEN’S SECURITY IN INDIA: Part 1……by Dr. Manjari

   Last few weeks are seeing yet again an outcry against the rise in crimes against women ……. NATIONWIDE.

Besides uniting the otherwise diverse country, we like to believe that it is also inspiring, justifying and motivating the administration out of inaction towards some concrete remedial measures. The government’s efforts are worthy of appreciation and positive reinforcement. Yet, they are just baby steps though in the right direction.

What is required to reverse the current security trends is definitely on these lines but needs a surgical strike to weed out the problem rather than just 1 section of it. For instance, the project by the Delhi Government towards the lighting of Delhi streets is a must from all possible considerations. It is a laudable exercise that may be rendered futile if not supplemented with other inputs for public security which may not be as obvious but are equally simple and basic.

What is evident however is a political and systemic Will to address the concerns and reverse the alarming trends. It is easy to recall from recent memory that the personal crimes in cities across the country are becoming ghastlier and more brazen each time with increased frequency of occurrence. This is despite concerted efforts on almost all fronts including judicial, social, policing and polity.

This goes to show that the malaise is not superficial to be treated by topical remedies but demands holistic healing in a shift from the approach of annihilating the perpetrator towards the globally proven strategies of ‘OPPURTUNITY CONTROL’. This strategy of crime prevention is based upon the control of the urban environment as the 3rd item essential to the perpetration of all crimes.

These theories shift the onus from the societal focus on the victims and the judicial emphasis on the motivated offender, to the equally important aspect of the location. Global research and applications have irrevocably established the universality of these principles where neighbourhoods are being made more secure and cities more liveable by tweaking the environmental components that deny the opportunity for the crime to actually take place.

From that angle, the augmentation of lighting on Delhi streets is a huge plus and should substantially enhance the feeling of security for all street users without a gender bias. What would make this feeling of security actually effective however, is if the lighting would enable casual surveillance by the users too. And this human interface cannot be substituted by posting guards or installing cameras. It is the citizen morality, intervention and participation that is the ‘brahmastra’ or undefeatable weapon of the civilised society which cannot be compensated by mechanical means.

This is the tough part. While it requires social engineering, lobbying and policy support, it must start with urban building controls that tend to characterise the environment we live in. The good news is that unlike many other cultures across the world, these practices are steeped in our tradition and lifestyles. It requires very minor revisiting, encouragement and enforcement to make a resurgence.

These strategies and approaches to urban security are being practised across the world under the names of CPTED, Secure by design, design out crime, design-in security etc. in their contextual manifestations specific to each socio-economic context.

The bottom line is that minor enforcement of existing bye-laws; just a little sensitivity by architects and urban designers and minor inclusions in urban policies/ development projects can alter this very basic balance in the urban fabric. We can enhance ‘personal security’ including gender specific, by rescuing our  urban development from the clutches of apathy, selfish and myopic approach to urban growth.

Do such houses enhance security or reduce it?

to be continued_in part_2>>>>__________________________________________________________

The ‘Association for Building Security, India’ is a registered not for profit society working ‘towards secure buildings today….and building a secure tomorrow’ by integrated approach in design and security.

#crime prevention
#women’s security
# Smart cities

# Delhi Government