Opinion | KCR’s faulty concern
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao would be well advised to withdraw a statement he made in response to the nationwide uproar over the grisly gang-rape and murder of a 26-year old veterinarian in Hyderabad. Women employees of the state transport corporation, he reportedly said, should not be asked to work late shifts — after 8.30pm— for the sake of their safety. This may seem like an expression of concern, but the signal it sends Telangana’s women is chilling, to say the least. Instead of assuring women their safety regardless of what jobs they do, his words suggest state’s helplessness over law and order. Worse, it indirectly shifts the burden of safety onto women, should they work late, and their employers.
Public spaces need to be safe, period. This cannot be repeated often enough. Any distinction of circumstances, be it by time or social setting, surrounding violence against women only serves to cramp the freedom that every citizen deserves as a basic right, regardless of gender. Cities, after all, have been envisioned as enclaves of liberation, of collaboration and ideas. For too long have public spaces been considered the domain of men, and while this exclusivist culture may have the backing of traditional mores, it needs to be challenged. Some progress has been made, but statements like Rao’s take us back to square one.
That sexual predators exist is a reality, no doubt. That they should not is the point, not what the vulnerable should do to stay out of harm’s way.