Thursday, September 26, 2013

Blog #3: Can Urban Planning Help India's Cities Reduce Sexual Violence?

According to urban planners and designers, planning a city's design to be "gender-sensitive" will makes the cities of India must safer for women. Planners and designers are promoting a new city design because the majority of women in India commute via sidewalk as well as multiple forms of public transport like the "subway, bus and a shared auto-rickshaw" to go to work and during this commute come across various types of perverted men. The most dangerous place of commute located in New Delhi and is called the "Ring Road, a massive circular road that circles the city". This road is dangerous because it allows cars to pass through numerous desolate zones and area without stoplights which promotes sexual violence since the prevailing place for rape in New Delhi is in a moving vehicle. Urban planners and designers argue that the lack of streetlights, gate-less neighborhoods and the city's fast moving speed all contribute to India, particularly New Delhi, subjecting women to higher chances of sexual violence.

The idea of majority vs. minority comes to mind after reading this article. The world is male dominated and therefore men are the majority and India is no exception. According to the Google Dataset on Political Seats Held by Women, women comprise a mere 11% of political seats in India. This means that 89% of the political seats in India belong to men. With this data one can understand that men make the rules and run the country. Sexual violence which is rampant in India is not happening to men but rather to women, and not much is being done to lower the numbers of sexual crimes. This causes one to wonder, if 89% of political seats in India belonged to women instead of men, would there be less sexual violence in the country? The fact that India's majority is made up of men who are the ones to make up the rules, and control how society in India runs, the theory of rape culture is prevalent therefore causing sexual violence in India to rage on.

From this article it seems that India, especially New Delhi was built to promote rape. This is because rape has three factors: race, age and situation. The construction of India's cities practically encourages situational rape since the planning and execution stranger rape starts with choosing a target who appears to be in a vulnerable and disadvantaged situation. How much more vulnerable and disadvantaged can one be than walking alone, at night, on a sidewalk where one has to "rely on lights coming from shops in the vicinity" too see? Neighborhoods where gates are non-existent practically invite violence in and getting rid of stoplights on roads to speed up commute allows cars with rape victims inside it, to keep driving "until the fuel runs out".

Cities in India need to be re-designed to make life much safer for women but what is more important is for India to become a more gender equal country. If India became much more equal, more women would be involved in politics and therefore help create laws that will benefit both men and women. Also, a gender equal country would mean a low or even non existent rape culture. If India's staggering numbers in sexual violence is to ever decrease, the country must design it's cities and become more gender equal.

Catherine Choi

Google DataSet:!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=sg_gen_parl_zs&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:IND&ifdim=country&hl=en_US&dl=en_US&ind=false

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