It was around 12 P.M. on a bright Sunday morning. My friend, Sonna Subbaiah, and I were walking down the lane adjacent to college with the metro station as the desired destination in our minds. Suddenly a powder blue car (an Alto I think, we didn’t really notice) pulled up next to us and the passenger door popped open. Getting uncomfortable with the situation we began to stride faster, in an attempt to reach the back gate where we knew of the guards and at least a modicum of safety. The car began to follow us and in horror we observed as a man, quite obviously in the throes of ecstasy, pulled down his pants and invited us into the car. With the knowledge that the situation wasn’t quite conducive to our physical safety, we began to run towards to back gate but the car kept pace, with the man begging and pleading with us to get inside and mouthing expletives when we wouldn’t.
By this time, we had reached the back gate. The man slammed the door shut and the car happily buzzed off. Since we were unable to note down the information on the number-plate, we couldn’t really do much. So we then went on our way, citing this as another example of ‘shit happens’. I pushed the incident to the back of my mind until very recently when the Gender Circle instituted in college brought out the issue of opening the back gate and ensuring a slightly safer practice than the one we currently have established.
On campus, we are relatively safe from any untoward sexual attention to our person, at least from men in cars who follow girls. Walking to the metro-station or to the local McDonalds establishment is increasingly becoming dangerous, what with the comparatively less inhabited area of Dwarka as opposed to other places in Delhi. The lack of basic safety measures for women on this patch of the road is inhibiting movement during the day, forget about when darkness begins to fall. The idea proposed by some to take the main road, on the other side of college is not only inconvenient when it comes to the distance but also ridiculous, seeing as how a much easier and safer solution exists in the form of allowing students to enter and exit from the back gate.
It isn’t infeasible to maintain the same system that is followed at the front gate. Although it isn’t the safest solution (people may still be able to stalk you, regardless of what gate you exit from, it’s a bad world out there), the probability of you encountering a situation of actual danger is radically reduced, seeing as how you won’t have to walk the periphery of college from outside, especially on that deserted patch. Rather, we can access these areas from within college, to a certain extent. The distance from the back-gate to the nearest area of civilisation is barely a hundred metres.
One may argue that it is not the college’s prerogative to ensure the safety of students once they exit campus and are out of the arms of authority, but it is surely in their interest, as well as the students’, to facilitate safer measures for their students to access nearby locations. Measures such as a cab service for students returning late at night to college from the metro station wouldn’t exist otherwise.
It’s my opinion that the back-gate should also be kept open for students to enter and exit campus as it will foster a relatively safer environment for us to visit nearby places. This incident has been the first such for the both of us and left us inevitably shaken. I’m sure many others are out there who have had similar experiences which is why we need a sustained dialogue between the administration and the student community about the issue of opening the gate. We need to start caring about something that has the potential to affect us all in extremely adverse ways. It could just be you next.