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Safety first, this Dec 31

In the current clime, where large scale protests over the gang rape of a para-medical student have given way to grief over her tragic death, there is a need more than ever to make public spaces safer for women. New Year’s Eve with its promise of revelry, parties brings with it some obvious apprehensions.

With crowds on roads, alcohol-fuelled senses and general mayhem, it is even more important that women in general feel safe bringing in the New Year, wherever they may be — at a hotel, on the roads, at a private party or simply with people known to them, in any public place at all.

Now that the nation seems galvanised to take the spirit of protest to a tangible conclusion, it would be a shame if a woman were to be molested, heckled, sexually harassed tonight.

Let us remember that the onus is not just on the police, the security cameras, hotel staff or bouncers to ensure that women can party happily and safely this time. It is upto the public too, ordinary people who must learn to respect personal space. They must not brush off unfortunate incidents, if any, as those that are bound to take place in moments of revelry.

The protest is a wake-up call by and for the public, not just for men in uniform and netas. There is only so much that the law-and-order machinery can do; it is up to every individual to behave responsibly because everybody is entitled to have a good time tonight, without the fear of being harassed in anyway.

Most importantly, it is imperative that a change in attitude begins to show from now. Do not blame girls for partying too late, or asking what they were doing on the roads in crowded places, if there are cases of harassment. Blame the culprits not the victims. It is time to put the ‘happy’ back in New Year for every woman out there. 

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