Key to safety is within our homes
Big part of the answer to our safety lies at home. The key to making our low-income urban areas safer is to create a culture at home and in our communities that respects women.
I grew up in a low-income urban area of Mumbai and vividly remember being exposed to molestation, verbal abuse and stalking at a very young age.
Create a culture at home and in our communities that respects women. (image credit: iiaweb)
Respect starts at home. Teach your sons to respect women.
Big part of the answer to our safety lies at home. Women, girls in our culture are taught to be subservient to men so this translated into acceptance and/or avoidance of unsafe situations, which isn't realistic nor sustainable.
The key to making our low-income urban areas safer is to create a culture at home and in our communities that respects women. I was one of the few women in my family who worked outside of the home. My brothers blamed me for being too modern and wearing clothes that attracted attention. It took many years for them to acknowledge their sisters and other women deserved respect.
Safety isn't just a woman's issue. Every man who has a sister, mother or daughter should be involved in solving this. Engaging and enlisting "guardian" men within the community to stop/report threats helps create a safer environment for everyone.
My sister took karate lessons and taught me how to use it to defend myself. It is a great skill but more importantly it helped build my confidence. Today, I live in suburban California and am enrolling my young daughter in self-defense classes.
Based on the great feedback and inspiration from other contributors, I am planning to talk to my daughter's school to see if we can get self-defense included as part of the PE curriculum. Giving girls the right skills and support from the family/community will go a long way in building confidence and staying safe.
Another suggestion is to include education for boys on why respecting women is important as these values are learned very early on in life.
Additional research on noteworthy initiatives:
Stop Street Harassment is doing great work in making streets safer for women. Would love to work with them to see how we can include some of their education resources in our schools and communities.
Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is using street art to address gender-based street harassment by taking a place where women feel uncomfortable and turning it into a place where we cannot be ignored. Here are some of her
posters for men who tell women what to do or what they think of them in the streets.
Women are Heroes": Project by French street artist, JR, who is famous for his pastings of large black-and-white photographic images in public spaces. In his view, it's a way to pay tribute to those who play an essential role in society but who are the primary victims of war, crime, rape and political or religious fanaticism.