Murders of Jigisha, Soumya: Violence against working women in India
Sumana Ganguly, an IT professional and a resident of 3rd Main Jakkasandra in Bengaluru, faces great difficulty while coming back home from her office late in the evening. Reason: dysfunctional street lights.
Sumana carries a torch light with her to help her navigate the dark streets in her locality. The IT professional is worried about her safety. "Lack of well-lit streets in my neighbourhood is a matter of trouble for the residents. I am a woman and I worry about my safety. In a country where women face violence of all sorts, especially on roads, I fear about my security. I have no other option, so I carry a torch light and a knife in my hand bag to fight possible attack by miscreants. Till now, I have been lucky. But I am not sure if anything untoward won't happen to me in the future," said Sumana.
Sumana's concern about her safety is nothing new. In India, every working woman fear for their personal security as every day we hear one or other "bad news" about violence against women.
The conviction of three men by a Delhi court on the brutal murder case of IT executive Jigisha Ghosh in 2009 on Thursday (July 14) once again brought to light the perils of working women in the country.
"28-year-old Jigisha, working as an operations manager in a management consultancy firm, was abducted and killed on March 18, 2009 after she was dropped by her office cab around 0400 hours near her home in Vasant Vihar area of South Delhi. Her body was recovered three days later from a place near Surajkund in Haryana," stated a PTI report.
The same accused had, six months earlier, in September 2008, shot TV news producer Soumya Vishwanathan who was driving home from her office, again, late at night.
Like Jigiisha and Soumya, millions of working women in India daily face violence of all kinds as they step out from their homes to earn their livelihood.
According to a survey published early this year, 80 per cent of Indian women face public harassment in cities.
The survey conducted by ActionAid UK stated, "Nearly four out of five women in India have faced public harassment ranging from staring, insults and wolf-whistling to being followed, groped or even raped."
The study polled around 500 women in various cities of the country. According to the study most of the women who had experienced harassment are either working women or students. The reason for working women or student facing public attack is because they are the ones who travel from their homes to their offices or educational institutions on a daily basis, say experts.
"For us in India the findings are not big news, what is noteworthy of the 500 women interviewed in India, is the extent to which women have responded and reported boldly about facing harassment and violence," Sandeep Chachra, ActionAid India's executive director, said.
Women's rights activists say the culture of widespread harassment faced by women is because of patriarchal mindsets. "India is a patriarchal society. Men have sexist attitudes. Most of the cases of violence against women are the result of intolerance. Unfortunately, most men find it hard to see a well-educated women venturing on the roads late in the night. Even during day time, we women are not safe. Every day we see women are groped in public spaces like buses or metros. They have to endure various kinds of insult and harassment. A large-number of them doesn't even report these cases. They take it as a part and parcel of their lives," said Bengaluru-based activist Usha Mohan Das.
Activists say quick action against accused is the key to end rampant violence faced by women within and outside their homes.