GUWAHATI, Aug 3 – How safe are the city’s roads and lanes for girls and women? A spate of recent incidents would indicate that many women, pedestrians in particular, are increasingly at the mercy of anti-social elements.
A few days ago as two young women were walking in the Uzan Bazar area, a bike rider groped one of them before making a quick getaway. The young woman filed a complaint in the nearby police station.
Similar reports of reprehensible conduct have of late become more frequent, and disturbingly some of the incidents have occurred in broad daylight. In several areas of the city, eve teasing incidents have added to the nervousness of young women. Victims are traumatised by the incidents which make them feel humiliated and helpless.
Mrinali Das (name changed), a young professional reported an episode in which she had to endure lewd remarks from a middle-aged man while she was waiting for a bus at Bhangagarh. “It was shocking to hear such filthy words from a much older person,” she remarked. In her office she related her experience with women colleagues, some of whom had also suffered such indignity.
The appalling incident involving the assault on a young woman on GS Road should have been an eye opener to society, but for anti-social elements nothing has changed. Some women who have to walk to workplaces believe that they are most vulnerable while on the road.
“The streets need to be made safer for women. Today, we have some people whose activities have made the city’s streets dangerous for women and girls…” said Anurita Pathak Hazarika, of North East Network. She underlined the need for society to become sensitive to the issue and called for adequate police response to the growing menace.
A string of crimes involving snatching of jewellery and mobile phones have also taken place across the city. Youths on bikes who have targeted women on the city’s roads are rarely caught, and the possibility that the criminals go on repeating their acts appears quite high.
The age profiles of victims vary from the young to the senior citizen in cases of snatching. In July, an elderly lady walking with her retired husband was made to part with her chain by a bike rider. The incident took place in broad daylight not very far from the State Secretariat.