Mayor Sampath Raj during his visit to Church Street said that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is considering designated parking for women on Church Street, citing women's safety as the reason. The news which was intended to please the women community instead triggered another debate about women's safety and safety in general. What women need is more than just a reserved parking space for their safety. Dr Punitha Tony Stephen, Consultant Pathologist in the city and Suman Ramachandra, a passionate sportsperson and a communication consultant speak to Joyeeta Chakravorty of Deccan Chronicle about safety issues and the city's failure in supplying parking spaces.
If Mayor Sampath Raj expected to win brownie points for his recent announcement that Church Street could soon have reserved parking for women, he may be in for a disappointment as not everyone, not even all women, seem to find the idea attractive.
Nor are they convinced by his contention that reserved parking for women, eventually to be extended to Brigade Road, MG Road and 85 other roads in a phased manner, will keep them safer in the city.
In fact, some seem to believe that he is trivialising the issue of women’s safety by making such cosmetic changes.
While consultant pathologist, Dr Punitha Tony Stephen, finds the idea of reserved parking laughable, Suman Ramachandra, a passionate sportsman and a communication consultant, says its too small a gesture for an issue as big as women’s safety. “ It is extremely unfortunate that an issue such as women’s safety is being treated in this manner. It needs more serious thought. It is sad that their thinking is so narrow. We need a more innovative approach to solve the parking issue," he argues.
Dr Punitha is also forthright in her response to the Mayor’s solution for women’s safety. "When I read the news I was laughing. I don't see the point actually. Even if you give the parking lot to us, what's the point. What about one's safety when one gets out of the car?" she asks, going on, "First of all getting a parking space in the area is difficult and then the BBMP comes along with this move that can only add to the problems of commuters. There is no point in this. Instead they should be beefing up cameras, increasing police patrolling in certain areas, creating awareness about crimes against women, and providing better lighting in secluded areas and good infrastructure.”
Dr Punitha makes another thought provoking point. “ Sadly, reserved parking could make women more vulnerable to sexual predators , who would know exactly where to attack them," she adds worriedly.
"I totally agree with Dr Punitha. The BBMP is creating more opportunity for the psychopaths in society to get to women," interjects Suman.
"Recently, there were three incidents of wallets being snatched from IT professionals, who were all male. Doesn't their safety count too? What we need is better policing as for a sexual predator it's all about instant gratification and whether it is a woman and man may not matter to him," he continues, adding in disgust, "Is providing parking space for women going to solve the issue of their safety? It is unfortunate that the state machinery is diluting the problem and making it so trivial."
The two , who seem to have similar views on the issue, proceed to sum up saying, “This approach is extremely narrow-minded and women’s safety cannot be solved with a reserved parking lot. It requires more thought. The civic authorities should think about everyone's safety.”...