No means no, in Paris or Delhi
This is the Delhi that I read about in newspapers and rediscover each time I go back from Paris, my home for the last 15 years, where, in general, a "no" from a woman means a no, where it means hands off. In Paris, it's all about seduction, winning the woman over, charming her, propositioning her maybe, but not coming on to her willy-nilly, sexually assaulting her or taking her forcibly. As a woman, I can go to a late night movie or restaurant alone, walk around Paris after dark on reasonably well-lit pavements or take public transport secure in the knowledge that there is police patrolling not only in the streets but also in the metro. The police here are held accountable and take all complaints seriously. Functioning CCTV cameras ensure offenders are quickly identified. Taxis are regulated and have to prominently display their licence number as well as the number to be called in case of a complaint. Taxi drivers live in fear of losing their licence. In general, the deterrents against sexual assault are strong and the punishment sure. But what essentially makes Paris safer is the attitude towards women. Sure, sexual harassment exists, domestic violence is still under wraps, crimes against women do occur, but in general the public space feels secure because men treat women with respect. And there is a civic sense that prevails, which turns bystanders into active defenders should it be required.
In India, familiarity with crimes against women through media accounts breeds indifference for the large majority who, for the most part, are just glad it isn't them, or their daughter or sister; who are momentarily shocked and sad and then shrug it off to get on with the business of living their lives. From the safe confines of our homes we read about these horrific rape cases with a feeling of impotency and fret about the safety of our young daughters and their friends.
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