How safe are women in Bandra? On National Television, a frail and pretty lass from Delhi, recently lamented, “Do you know how afraid I am, because daily I have to dodge potential rapists, on my way to college?” Is this how our young girls feel in other cities too, in Mumbai? en, it is time to worry and be very afraid for our female children who need to get out of the safety of their homes for education... and so many other purposes. Till recently, Mumbai was known to be a safe city for women. It is no more, say voices across the city, and from all over India. Bandra too has changed - and citizens ought to sit up and take note, what has changed in the last decade? Any Mumbaikar living here for a couple of decades, would have easily observed the downward slide of this city - from a regal, majestic and disciplined one into a glitzy, crumbling, indiﬀerent metro; frayed at the edges and bursting at the seams. It is particularly painful to watch the queen of suburbs, Bandra descending into the present appalling condition of chaos and disorder. e underbelly of this rich suburb is evident in the sleazy joints and the disrespect shown to women and the elderly in public. e huge leap in floating population, the unplanned glut of new buildings, the mushrooming of bars/pubs; combined with the apathy of the administration have collectively transformed Bandra into a ticking time bomb ready to explode at any time.
ough most of the crimes against women go unreported, just one incident of the kind that happened in Delhi will act as the spark that will set the haystack of Bandra on fire! And like every problem, women are at the receiving end, aﬀected on all sides. To cite just one example - walking on Hill Road, elbowing through the throng of unruly crowds; returning aer catching a glimpse of their screen hero, is a daunting experience for any female. e clash of cultures is very much in evidence. Brought up to think that all females are possessions to be owned, and that the fashionable attire is an invitation to ogle, grope or more…the outsiders may be tempted to resort to venting their passions on any female at hand. is is not restricted to Hill road alone, even the once idyllic lanes of Bandra are becoming out of bounds for our young girls and women, out on their own. e traditions of Bandra have drastically undergone a sea change for the worse. Living in the plethora of buildings, it is convenient to live like ‘frogs in the well’ - without taking the trouble of getting to know one’s neighbour or bonding with society for common good. e increase in the number of incidents of chain-snatching, eve teasing and groping on roads and public places can be attributed to the general indiﬀerence and self-centeredness of the people living in the area. Not very long ago, concern for the
safety of women out for work, education, entertainment, marketing etc. used to be the responsibility of the whole community, living in the quiet suburb of Bandra. With the burgeoning of Bandra, priorities have changed; leaving no room for additional responsibilities. Rapid progress may have changed the face of Bandra but the problem is that the Civic administration and the police have failed to prioritize the issues. Clearing the freeways for smooth movement of traﬃc and pedestrians may reduce the jostling on our roads. Stricter policing is the need of the hour. Police personnel can do better with their blinkers oﬀ- shooing away courting couples is not as important as registering FIRs when women lodge complaints of harassment, domestic violence and molestation. Treat the complaints of women however illiterate, as top priority, for they are the mothers, sisters and daughters of this society. At the Community Centres in Bandra, one can hear the pathetic tales of women who have ventured to complain to the police and have been lectured upon for complaining about their own masters (husbands who live oﬀ them and assault them in return)! For the youth, the present atmosphere in the suburb seems to be conducive to healthy growth without gender bias. e numerous schools and colleges in Bandra provide opportunities to youth to interact
freely and grow together in wisdom and knowledge without any underlying currents. is can be utilized to dispense information to change the mindset of growing teenagers. It is not possible to change the laws of attraction but we can teach people to respect them. Building a safer community for all concerned and especially for women will need each one to grow in awareness of the social problems. Taking proactive measures collectively will certainly help in the long run. Buildings and housing societies can come together at regular intervals to invest time and energy into proven deterrents to crime such as stricter security agencies, CCTVs, citizen patrols and other similar measures that may be operated in conjunction with the local BMC Corporator and Police. Investigating an oﬀense against women however insignificant, may deter the perpetrator from growing into a fullfledged criminal. As fathers, sons and brothers, even those living ensconced in luxury and security should take the responsibility of making all our girls and women feel safe and free when they are away from home. e police by their presence and de handling, should instil more confidence in the citizens that unitedly they can make Bandra safe for all women! Vera Alvares
A community newspaper that connects you with Bandra locals