Free public transport for women in Delhi: short-sighted initiative to keep women safe or a step toward real gender equality?

At the beginning of June, the Delhi government announced that they would be making all public transport free for women in a move to keep women safe (read more about this here).

In principle, this is a great idea. I’m glad #Delhi is making public transport safer for women in a move to reduce sexual abuse, which apparently is much more common in private taxis or rickshaws, especially after dark. Taking the bus or the metro is the clear choice for women, likely because they’re public and there is accountability for men who have dodgy motives. 

However…

While I acknowledge that doing SOMETHING is a step forward, how about we look at the root cause of the problem?

Why not teach our boys that consent is non-negotiable?

Why make women take public transport instead of holding men accountable for their actions?

Why make women cover up just because men can’t seem to control their lusty urges?

People on a train in India
Photo by Rathish Gandhi on Unsplash

Change is good. Resolution (or revolution!) is even better. Not to mention this initiative is unfair because there are plenty of women in India who can afford public transport. And many men who cannot. So is free public transport really addressing the issue? No. Is it likely to keep women safer in the short-term? In theory, yes. But it’s not a real solution.

Keeping women out of reach IS NOT how you eradicate rape culture. Teaching men that there are consequences for their actions is. Actually campaigning for and stressing the benefits of true gender equality is.

I hope this measure is successful in keeping Delhi’s local and visiting women safe in the short-term, until an actual REAL change happens, where women are treated as equals instead of slabs of meat, and no one needs to worry or fear for their safety when choosing their mode of transport.

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