Do Street Lights Make A Woman’s Walk Home Safer?

Following the conviction of the Delhi rapists for the utterly evil crime against a young Indian woman in December 2012 there is a call for street lights to be installed in an effort to improve safety measures. The report titled ‘Invisible Women’ which is due to be published advocates for a gender stake in the infrastructure economy of India.

The lack of proper public provision in the form of reliable public transport, street lights, and toilets have been allegedly designed with the male user in mind. Female toilets in India, according to the report, are ‘dark and unfriendly’ and often close at 9pm. In rural places women often have to walk a distance to an outside toilet and rapes are often committed on the pathways. A high number of these cases have been reported in the state of Bihar which has high poverty levels.

The Indian nobel laureate Amartya Sen has written about India’s toilet problem in his latest book ‘An Uncertain Glory’. Sen said that: “Half of all Indians have no toilet. In Delhi when you build a new condominium there are lots of planning requirements but none relating to the servants having toilets. It’s a combination of class, caste and gender discrimination. It’s absolutely shocking. Poor people have to use their ingenuity and for women that can mean only being able to relieve themselves after dark with all the safety issues that entails.”

While toilets may not be a huge problem in the UK safety fears have been, nevertheless, raised over cuts being made to street lighting as part of councils’ savings measures. The Labour Commission on Women’s Safety produced a report in 2012 titled ‘Everywoman Safe Everywhere‘.  There is a section on  ‘Community Safety’  which states that ‘perceptions of insecurity in the community often disproportionately impact women and that women are twice as likely to feel unsafe on their journey to work as men…’ It further goes on to state that half a million street lights have been turned off in the UK. 

Women have a stake in every facet of development and the sooner that policy makers realise that gender limitations are ‘man-made’ the safer the world will become for us. 


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