Crime Against Women

Indian women are loitering to make their cities safer

'All protests are not marches, some are strolls,' says a campaign to encourage women to assert their right to safe public spaces.

Indian women want to reclaim their  cities. Using the hashtag #whyloiter on Twitter, women around the country are demanding their right to go out as and when they feel like.

The hashtag borrows the title of a book about women and public spaces in Mumbai by Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade. Since it was launched on December 16, which marked the two-year anniversary of the infamous Delhi gang rape incident, the #whyloiter campaign has received wide support. Women are going out alone to beaches, parks and other spaces typically thought to be safe only for men or groups of women, and posting descriptions of their experiences on social networking sites.

Participants in the #whyloiter campaign are also demanding an end to the survivor-bashing that seems to follow instances of sexual harassment. For example, after a woman was raped by an Uber cab driver in Delhi recent, many people blamed her for falling asleep during the journey.

“In the present environment where the discourse of safety has been taken over by the ideas of protectionism, we need to re-assert women's right to public space as citizens,” Phadke told Scroll.

The right to take risks

Phadke calls this the right to to take risks. “The right to risk asserts women's right to the public,” she said. “It claims that what women want is not a safety which is conditional on them behaving a certain way and being respectable or having a purpose in public space, but the unconditional right to be in public space and to take risks.”

Students from Delhi are among the most eager participants in the campaign. But some participants feel that the campaign will be ineffective without strong government measures to make the cities safer.

“Police and judiciary should stand up for women and support them,” Krishangi Singh, a 19-year-old participant in the campaign told Scroll. “It is only when women are genuinely unafraid of reporting sexual harassment crimes that the change will come to our society.”

Shilpa Phadke agrees that safer infrastructure is key. “Provision of infrastructure ‒ good public transport, clean well lit public toilets, good street lighting and accessible public parks for everyone is a must,” she said.

Phadke added that India needs to move away from a protection-based discourse to a rights-based discourse to change the way society views women stepping out.

Here’s a look at some social media reactions to the campaign.











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The incredible engineering that can save your life in a car crash

Indian roads are among the world’s most dangerous. We take a look at the essential car safety features for our road conditions.

Over 200,000 people die on India’s roads every year. While many of these accidents can be prevented by following road safety rules, car manufacturers are also devising innovative new technology to make vehicles safer than ever before. To understand how crucial this technology is to your safety, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a car accident.

Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.
Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.

A car crash typically has three stages. The first stage is where the car collides with an object. At the point of collision, the velocity with which the car is travelling gets absorbed within the car, which brings it to a halt. Car manufacturers have incorporated many advanced features in their cars to prevent their occupants from ever encountering this stage.

Sixth sense on wheels

To begin with, some state-of-the-art vehicles have fatigue detection systems that evaluate steering wheel movements along with other signals in the vehicle to indicate possible driver fatigue–one of the biggest causes of accidents. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is the other big innovation that can prevent collisions. ESP typically encompasses two safety systems–ABS (anti-lock braking system), and TCS (traction control system). Both work in tandem to help the driver control the car on tricky surfaces and in near-collision situations. ABS prevents wheels from locking during an emergency stop or on a slippery surface, and TCS prevents the wheels from spinning when accelerating by constantly monitoring the speed of the wheels.

Smarter bodies, safer passengers

In the event of an actual car crash, manufacturers have been redesigning the car body to offer optimal protection to passengers. A key element of newer car designs includes better crumple zones. These are regions which deform and absorb the impact of the crash before it reaches the occupants. Crumple zones are located in the front and rear of vehicles and some car manufacturers have also incorporated side impact bars that increase the stiffness of the doors and provide tougher resistance to crashes.

CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.
CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.

Post-collision technology

While engineers try to mitigate the effects of a crash in the first stage itself, there are also safe guards for the second stage, when after a collision the passengers are in danger of hitting the interiors of the car as it rapidly comes to a halt. The most effective of these post-crash safety engineering solutions is the seat belt that can reduce the risk of death by 50%.

In the third stage of an actual crash, the rapid deceleration and shock caused by the colliding vehicle can cause internal organ damage. Manufacturers have created airbags to reduce this risk. Airbags are installed in the front of the car and have crash sensors that activate and inflate it within 40 milliseconds. Many cars also have airbags integrated in the sides of the vehicles to protect from side impacts.

SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.
SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.

Safety first

In the West as well as in emerging markets like China, car accident related fatalities are much lower than in India. Following traffic rules and driving while fully alert remain the biggest insurance against mishaps, however it is also worthwhile to fully understand the new technologies that afford additional safety.

So the next time you’re out looking for a car, it may be a wise choice to pick an extra airbag over custom leather seats or a swanky music system. It may just save your life.

Equipped with state-of-the-art passenger protection systems like ESP and fatigue detection systems, along with high-quality airbags and seatbelts, all Volkswagen cars have the safety of passengers at the heart of their design. Watch Volkswagen customer stories and driver experiences that testify its superior German engineering, here.

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This article was produced on behalf of Volkswagen by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.

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