I am that woman

What is it like for a woman who uses public transportation for her daily commute in the Indian capital Delhi?

I am that woman who works late at the office and goes through the scary process of standing on a pavement in New Delhi hailing a three-wheeler “auto-rickshaw” or a battered taxi in a futile attempt to get home.

I am that woman who receives calls from friends while travelling in taxis late at night: They call and ask to stay on the line “just in case”.

I am that woman whose husband sends her mobile phone messages asking for location updates. And yes, I am also that woman whose mother, who lives in distant Australia, sends text messages to ask if I am home yet.

I, along with millions of women who call this city home, am that woman.

Now let me tell you about what it is like for a woman in Delhi once she does manage to flag down an auto-rickshaw or a taxi.

The experience is often uncomfortable and, all too often, frightening, despite Delhi being one of the most densely populated cities in the world,

On any evening, when millions of us working women are making the trip home or heading out to meet friends, or just generally try to get from point A to point B, the final destination could not come fast enough.

A combination of a few of the following things is often enough to make me have second thoughts about my chosen mode of transport: The taxi driver is looking at me in a lewd manner in his rear-view mirror it’s either too hot or too cold to roll down the taxi’s heavily tinted windows the streets through which the taxi is travelling are poorly illuminated or there does not seem to be any people within hearing distance if I had to scream for help.

Never-ending challenge

I, like so many women, and men for that matter, am worried, frustrated and tired of the situation. We would like solutions to what seems to be a never-ending challenge for modern, progressive India.

Sure, it is disappointing that one transport service, Uber, that appeared to provide a safer, more efficient option has, for now, been banned from operating in Delhi. But the alleged rape that led to this ban is even more of a reason for our interminable frustration.

We are troubled, angry and disappointed that India, nearly two years after the brutal gang-rape of a medical student on a bus in New Delhi, is still struggling to deal with what is a chronic problem.

Stricter laws have been put in place and public-awareness initiatives launched, yet with every new case that emerges – on average at least one a day hits the headlines – the hope that things are changing diminishes just that little more.

India is still grappling with the ugly reality that brought it to a standstill in 2012 and drew the world’s attention to the indecent, demeaning and at times violent treatment of thousands of women across the country.

Scarier still, for every one case that we hear about or I as a reporter follow, undoubtedly many more cases go unreported and unnoticed.

The unreported and unnoticed cases involve women just like me.

We are all angry. We are all tired. And we all want our safety to be guaranteed.

At home, at work and in public places.