Participatory Safety Audits in Low Income Urban Areas
I have referred to a handbook created by Jagori and WICI on conducting Women's Safety Audits in low income neighbourhoods, with a focus on essential services. The handbook outlines a process of how such an audit could be conducted with participation of women in two resettlement areas in Delhi.
"A safety audit consists of a group of women walking in public spaces in their neighbourhood to identify the physical or social characteristics that make these spaces feel safe or unsafe."
A brief history
This is a video of a Campus Safety Audit process. It seems like a great way to document the process!
The safety audit methodology was evolved in Toronto in the 1980s, when a number of brutal sexual assaults and murders of women occurred in the City of Toronto.
A group of women organized themselves as “The Toronto Pink Ribbon Committee” and approached the Metro Toronto Chair. Acting on their suggestions, a task force to examine public violence against women and children was established. The task force worked with Metro Toronto staff and council members, more than 80 individual community volunteers, local experts and community and service agencies. A Final Report of their efforts was released in March 1984.
It recommended the Metropolitan Toronto Council appoint a body to implement all of the report’s recommendations. The “Metropolitan Action Committee on Public Violence Against Women and Children” was then established.
METRAC, a not for profit organization, traces its origin to this time.
There are a number of organizations in Mumbai working around domestic violence (
SNEHA) and making the city safer.
Akshara is also part of the Safe City campaign and has over the last year, organized "
safety walks" and partnered with the media to audit
public open spaces in the city.
The handbook, I referred to, defines women's safety as strategies, practices and policies which aim to reduce gender-based violence (or violence against women), including women's fear of crime.
It focuses on safe access to essential amenities as its premise and evaluates the resettlement colonies from that perspective. This frames the issue extremely well for me, by underscoring that
women's poverty is related to unsafe access to services and infrastructure.
It recognizes the power of planning and design by emphasizing that spaces, which cause fear, restrict movement and thus people's use of that space. This creates a form of social exclusion. However, places can also be inviting and make people feel safe and comfortable.
The question that these different types of practices pose for me is:
What are different types of participatory audits to evaluate safety and security in low income urban areas so that they become an effective tool for action?