The United Nations Development for Women (Unifem) began a program with the goal of preventing violence against women and girls in public spaces in Delhi, India. Delhi is one of the five cities that has been selected across the globe for the “Safe Cities” program.
There are other four cities where the “Global Safe Cities Free of Violence Against Women and Girls” will be launched. These cities are Quito in Ecuador, Cairo in Egypt, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and Kigali in Rwanda. Each city, in keeping with this program, will have different strategies to prevent violence against women and girls.
Ines Alberdi, executive director of Unifem said, “Everyday women and adolescent girls face sexual harassment and violence as they go about their daily routines - whether on the streets, in buses and trains, or in their own neighborhoods.”
Alberdi went on to say that public violence against women and girls limits their rights and freedom to education, work, and participation in public life. She said that …”violence in public spaces remains a neglected issue.” Alberdi said that local authorities are supporting this program which will be heavily focused in slum areas as well as poor urban areas.
There is a lack of reliable data on violence against women and girls in public spaces, according to the director. This constitutes a hindrance to finding solutions to the problem.
How will the program be implemented? First of all there will be training of grassroots NGO workers, police and urban planners. The program will include special audits that identify unsafe places, mass media campaigns for no tolerance for violence against women and girls, and activities that involve local communities that will include men.
In 2010, it was reported that 82 percent of women in Delhi said that buses constituted the least safe public space for women in the city. A survey in Delhi found that women reported that side streets were unsafe, followed by markets and parks. Alcoholism among male slum dwellers was a contributing factor to this problem. According to the survey, less than 1 percent of sexual abuse victims filed charges.