Professor Shilpa Phadke from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the author of Why Loiter? had a discussion on Hyperbolic Heist(s): The Problematic Discourse of Gendered Safety in India, as part of the Research Rountable at the Department on 15 July 2016.
Prof Phadke presented parts of her paper which highlighted the need for women to reclaim public spaces that have been under constant surveillance since the protests after the Nirbhaya rape in December 2012. The discussion ranged from the debate between feminism being on one side and safety the other. She also spoke of media portrayal where violence is reported using the name of the victim rather than the accused. There were examples to examine the ways in which multiple voices coming from different ideological positions get themselves heard in this ‘safety conversation’, making it both deeply contested and impossibly complicated, and the implications this has for women in India laying claim to public space in the city.
The conversation also went towards the violation of private spaces as seen with the Mumbai Police raids on a hotel within the Malvani Police Station limits alleging the existence of a prostitution ring. The talk ended with how women manipulated access to public space at times when they were not allowed, saying that a visit to the Siddhi Vinayak Temple let them go out in the middle of the night.