Mumbai is No Longer Women-Safe. Seriously!

This is the “women in trouble” fortnight.

Two days ago, a security company that provides in-home alarm devices sent an email with the header “Ladies, this city is no longer safe”, in an attempt to scare their target audience into buying their products.

Last week, I received an email from a subscriber to my email list asking me to remove her name unless I was going to talk about “injustice to women, children because of rape…how it would be better to castrate the men instead of sending them to prisons…also how to prevent models exposing their bodies and tempting men…”, etc.

Earlier this week, an editorial in a major daily had someone actually say that given our conservative culture and overpopulation, seeing couples indulging in public displays of affection, will obviously lead to a buildup of sexual frustration among men and thus an increase in sex-related crimes.

Mr. Narendra Modi passed an inappropriate remark against Mr. Shashi Tharoor’s wife. A film-maker threw acid on a girl. A cat burglar raped a Spanish woman. A few old women living alone in their homes were robbed and killed.  A young lawyer was raped and then killed outside her apartment in a building complex.

Suddenly it looks like the crime-rate, especially against women, has spiraled out of control women and the elderly being easy targets.

But, I wonder if too much is being made of a series of isolated incidents that have occurred in quick succession. Given the fact that newspapers and news-channels play up every issue of even the remotest interest to their readers and viewers and that incidents involving physical and verbal assaults, especially against women, have an incredibly high voyeuristic potential, perhaps all that is happening these days, is that more and more such incidents that have always been occurring around us, are now coming to the surface.

I don’t have hard facts and figures, but it is not as if the crime rate per se has suddenly shot up as compared to earlier years. In fact, living in Mumbai, we should consider ourselves fortunate that we don’t have violent street-crime dogging us through the day and night, the way it affects daily life in places like Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo or for that matter certain parts of downtown metros in the US. No gun-point or knife-point mugging, no gang warfare among youths of various ethnicities or nationalities and no needless regular kidnappings and killings.

Women (and men) can still safely drive at night, walk most streets in Mumbai and even go for a run at 4.00AM in the morning. Among a cross-section of women that I casually asked this question to, while everyone is perturbed in general over the extent of news coverage that is creating this aura of lawlessness, on a personal, individual level, there is no real sense of being scared or afraid or insecure.

Here is what I am trying to say! There is a certain level of crime in the city. It has its crests and trough around a certain mean. Women and the elderly are and have always been part of the target population. There is however no hard data that there is a sudden major spurt. The vast majority of perpetrators are people known to, or related to the victims, which goes against the claim that there is a sudden increase in random, vicious crime. The city is as safe as it was and will be. What we don’t need is security companies and the media whipping up hysteria because it serves their self-interest!

18 Comments

  • Santanu Bhaumik wrote:

    I think you are right. Mumbai is among the safest cities. Crime will always be there but being paranoid and over reactive to them will make the situation worse.

  • Well said..nothwithstanding what the media has to say..my wife heads out for a run in the dark stillness of the morning..without fear in her own mind or in my mind either.

    Venkat

  • Rohit Gosalia wrote:

    I agree. In Delhi – I am told – that women rarely think of going out alone after Sunset – even in car.

  • I agree with you. Mumbai is a very safe city.

  • Agreed. In the guise of TRPs media goes hammer and tongs and those crime shows only add fuel to fire. Life is the same just that the fear is being instilled day in and out by the media. I am not saying that crime is acceptable but at the same time things aren’t as bad as they are projected.

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    No woman dare run at 04.00 hours!

  • I think, the whole is being hyped up in the media.These crimes are a common feature in all the big cities in the world, except the Scandinavian countries on account of very small populations and they are not sex starved.
    Generally women are quite safe in Bombay.

  • Armaity Surendra Patel wrote:

    Hi Bhavin,
    I am quoting your lines…which as per u are of a subscriber.. Quote “injus­tice to women, chil­dren because of rape…how it would be bet­ter to cas­trate the men instead of send­ing them to prisons…also how to pre­vent mod­els expos­ing their bod­ies and tempt­ing men…”, etc.Unquote.

    I would rather say that they are also your own thoughts!! Well I do agree that men should be castrated instead of being
    imprisoned and that not only models but collegians too wear inappropriate clothes! The public show of affection by young couples, all these put together lead to sexual crimes!!

    As you and other readers say that we are making ‘mountan of the mole hills’ we should not forget that “little drops of water make a mighty ocean’ and one fine day such incidents may grow out of proportion! Therefore, we should adopt caution every step of the way and guide youngsters to refrain from too much public show of affection and bindaaz attitude of clothes and behaviour.
    Yes, I am from the old school of thoughts and so most will not agree, but my Dad always told us that “when on the road or public places u must observe decorum.” Therefore, we, women should avoid inviting trouble by our irresponsible behaviour! This does not mean that we, women should be oppressed !

  • It is all bull….that women/girls who wear indecent clothes are targeted by these sex starved animals. Have come across these misfits harassing even females fully covered up. It is all in their lustful head. They are just big bullies, who only threaten women and children. Let the woman take action and fight back and you see in most cases these animals put their tails between their legs and make a run for it.
    About the rise in crime. The animal that raped the Spanish girl has some vehicle and his family is financially OK. Yet he goes about robbing the neighbourhood. Why? because our laws are …..It was just a week or so when he was caught for robbing an actors place and given bail. This smarty knows that he can get away with it so easily, so he keeps on and on.
    There should be some heavy penalty, like castrating the rapist and sending these misfits out of the City.
    There was a time when there was rampant pick pocketing in the local trains, but no one would dare to rob anyone in between Virar and Borivali, as the culprit when caught was stripped naked and thrown into the water below. You see this type of scare should be put into these animals and one would see the change. Most people are scared and given.
    Another thing is whenever a person is in trouble. The public should go all out and help, not be mere spectators. If there is a big crowd for/to support anyone in distress, then we will see a drastic change. A change for the better. We can have our Bombay of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
    Hoping against hope.

  • I have a 21 year old, who occassionally comes home after 10 p.m. She never had a problem. I remember walking from Sion Hospital Hostel to King Circle at 4 a.m. To have dosa. Never had a problem. Mumbai is still safer than many cities. But, it is easier to get “unsafe” news these days.

  • P.S. I hope you did take your subscriber off your list – this article notwithstanding. Talk about confused!

  • I totally agree with you. Mumbai is comparatively a safer city.

  • Compared to other metro cities, Mumbai and chennai are safer. I feel women should also dress properly and not provocatively.

  • jamna varadhachary wrote:

    Yes I think Bombay is safe. I come back alone at 11 pm often. Only take care to come by the main road, not the gully. I also live alone but do follow some rules about not opening doors without checking. and I think Calcutta is also safe. I think it is about a culture of respecting women.

  • Prem mahtani wrote:

    I agree with you,mumbai is the safest city in the world

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    What about the old ladies who were staying peacefully in their homes & yet got killed? Why do we always compare Mumbai only with Delhi? Why do we not understand that media hype puts pressure on the cops to act- and act fast. Didn’t the accused in the acid attack on the physio get recognized & arrested because his mug shot appeared in a news paper? would any of us have the same views- that “Mumbai is ‘comparatively’ safe city” if one of our own relations were to be a victim? And why settle for ‘comparatively safe’- why not demand an absolutely safe environment? I think the fault lies not so much with the police but with the lax & lethargic legal system which grants bail (even to repeat offenders) at the drop of a hat. With each passing day I am getting more & more convinced that archaic punishments like castration, public flogging etc be reintroduced and the ‘rarest of rare case’ criteria be done away with, for sending a convicted murderer to the gallows.

  • Doshi N.C. wrote:

    Agreed that Mumbai is safer compared to many other cities but it is advisable to follow
    security tips by everybody, especially women,elderly living alone.

  • Mr. modi is strong person to become next prime minister of India!!

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