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An Interview with Divyata Ved.

Divyata Ved is a financial analyst who I work with on a regular basis. I thought it would be educational and beneficial to try to understand the challenge from an individual in a different socioeconomic class.

Photo of Tawei Joseph Lin
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What medium of transportation do you use to get around town? 

Auto Rick Shaw is the most common means of transportation for me. Fortunately, my daily travelling to office takes only 15-20 minutes one way. This is affordable given the short distance. Else, Local trains and buses are the most common and affordable transportation for the people in Mumbai.
 
Are people in your community from different backgrounds? What characteristics are common to many people there? 

The community comprises of people from various economic as well as religious backgrounds. Common factors across the spectrum is fast-paced Mumbai life  leaving no time for personal activities. Travelling eats a lot of time of a person’s daily life. Common entertainment factors are Bollywood, Cricket and festivals. A lot of significance is attached to festivals as well as wedding events in our day to day lives.
 
Would you say that you feel safe in your neighborhood? Why or why not? 

I feel safe in my neighborhood during the course of the day, including my residence as well as office area. The only concern I face is travelling alone using a public transport during late hours or early morning hours. Limited crowd on the roads makes me feel uncomfortable as in case of any unfortunate incidence, I won’t be protected anymore. Also, the way back to my office is little lonely with no street lights and no residential complexes around. It is unlikely for me to travel alone after 10.30 pm, even using a private vehicle, unless accompanied by a male companion.
               
To add on, there have been instances when one should be extra careful during certain festivals wherein we have massive processions on the road. There are people who take undue advantage of this and commutation becomes difficult. At times, I feel unsafe entering an ATM at a secluded place or during late hours. We encounter eve teasing at times on the railway platforms, buses and on roads. Many a times, I chose not to respond to such behavior, anticipating situation to worsen further and with the fear of not getting the public support as well.

 
Recently, we hear of cases, wherein thieves target women drivers at the traffic signal . They work as a team. One of them would acts as if he has been injured by your car. They will drive your attention there and you would lower down the glasses and correspondingly, one of his accompanies steals valuables from the other side.
 
What are some of the visual cues you look for in a new place that help you know whether or not you’re in a safe environment?
  • No.  of people around
  • Presence of Street Lights
  • Behavior of people around ; e.g.  strangers  trying to be overfriendly. 
     
Tell me about a time when you went somewhere despite feeling unsafe. What was it like? How did you cope? 

I was travelling way back home in an auto rickshaw accompanied by my sister at around 10 pm. Two people on a bike, tried to snatch away our purses while we were seated. However, they could not succeed as we were quick to respond and not let it go. I had heard of such kind of incidence, but had never experienced it.
 
If you were going to design a safe place in a community, what features would you think are necessary? 
 
  • Safe Transport facilities, with security officials during wee hours.
  • Special focus on having women security officials in the overall security force
  • Communication facilities e.g. Telephone booths nearby.
  • Patrolling during late hours.
  • Avid use of the mobile application related to women security. There are existing applications, which on a click of button will sent her location to four of its registered contacts indicating high alert.
  • Availability of Pepper Spray which is currently not readily available.
  • Secured Parking facility. Parking for Women employees on the ground floor in a multi story corporate building. 

What safety measures exist in your community that would be good to replicate elsewhere?
 
  • Women employees in our office are provided home drop after 9 pm, followed by a confirmation security call. In if we don’t avail a home drop, we get phone calls from our security confirming our safety.
  • Channel V has launched ‘With You’ mobile application for women safety.
  • Presence of security officials in ladies compartment in local trains in Mumbai during late hours. However, there have been many instances of officials not being present. 

What safety hazards do you see in your community that affect men more than women? 

Honestly, I can think of anything serious here. Yes, but men are equally threatened by theft related cases. At times, in order to protect their women accompanies, they are likely to face issues from large groups causing nuisance. 
 

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Joseph, thanks to you and Divyata Ved for sharing these insights, which would be useful when we start brainstorming in the ideation phase!
It's great to see you using the interview guide.

As in many posts, transportation seems a major issue.
Lights, number of people around, are important cues.

You might want to build upon on a few other inspirations who have used the interview guide:
http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/survey-responses-from-iraq-nepal-and-kenya

http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/survey-response-kabul-afghanistan