Ban women from working late – This order passed by the Gurgaon administration in response to the recent spate of attacks on working women is absolutely pathetic and outrageous. Now all malls and commercial establishments operating in this city near the national Capital need a special permission from the labour department when they have women working after 8 PM.
Instead of cracking down on offenders, ensuring safety at the workplace and streets and better public transport, the Gurgaon administration has effectively washed it’s hands off the problem, placing the onus squarely on women, companies, malls..Pretty much everyone, except themselves. The problem, they seem to suggest, lies with women themselves.
An order like this only marginalizes women further, pushes them back into the four corners of their homes. Think about it. How many companies will want to hire women?
In “Why Loiter? Women and risk on Mumbai Streets”, sociologist Shilpa Phadke, journalist Sameera Khan and architect Shilpa Ranade suggest that one of the factors that makes Mumbai a relatively safer city for women is because of the access they enjoy to public spaces. It is a space that over the years has seen a gradual shrinking. Incidents of violence against women are witnessing a rise. What is heartening is that every time there has been an attack on women in public like the Marine Drive rape case or random attacks on suburban trains, the administration’s response has not been to curb women’s movements, but to step up security.
I don’t mean for this to become a Mumbai vs. the Rest of the country debate but this trend of authorities absolving all responsibility is a disturbing one. It’s not just Gurgaon. Look at Kolkata, ruled by a woman Chief Minister. After a woman at a city night club complained of rape, the CMs first response was to order all clubs to shut down by 11 PM. Not a word about the insensitivity with which the police dealt with the victim or the delay in responding to her complaint.