Delhi wants women safety as poll priority

New Delhi, Dec 3 : A new Avaaz/Hindustan Times/MDRA opinion poll released recently revealed that the vast majority of voters in Delhi want the new government to prioritize policy on violence against women, and are more likely to vote for candidates who commit to strong action on this issue.

Delhi will witness elections in 70 constituencies spread over nine districts to elect a new assembly on Dec 4.

A series of specific actions have been outlined in a new 6-point "Womanifesto" issued this weekend by global civic network Avaaz.

Ricken Patel, Avaaz Executive Director, said: "With nearly all voters calling the protection of women an election issue, Sheila Dikshit is the first candidate to endorse the Womanifesto. Since this manifesto is the best way to cut the rhetoric and assure voters of meaningful action, the only question now is, what are Arvind Kejriwal and Harsh Vardhan waiting for?"

The poll shows that the desire to protect women is a powerful new force in Delhi politics, ahead of the Dec 4 vote. With a representative sample of 3,061 people across the Delhi state, the poll found:

93% see violence against women as a priority in the upcoming Delhi elections.

88% are more likely to vote for a politician who commits to strong action to stop violence against women, with 56% much more likely.

91% are in favour of the new Delhi government prioritising a policy to tackle violence against women.

94% are in favour of the new Delhi government launching a public education campaign to challenge the root causes of violence against women.

Additionally two questions were asked to 1441 women across Delhi. They show the tough reality that women face and the urgency of acting. These findings show that:

60% of women feel unsafe in Delhi.

69% of women feel they and their female relatives of friends restrict their travels in Delhi.

Since Friday thousands of people have contacted CM candidates via social media, email and other means to commit to a 6-point plan to tackle violence against women in Delhi.

This "Womanifesto" is backed by over 50 prominent Indian civil society leaders, including eminent economist Devaki Jain; Kavita Krishnan of the national Bekhauf Azaadi campaign; Suneeta Dhar who runs Jagori; Professor Ayesha Kidwai who just won the Infosys prize; Karuna Nundy, Supreme Court advocate and Urvashi Butalia; the publisher and historian.

The Womanifesto sets out detailed objectives in 6 areas:

Educate everyone: comprehensive, well-funded and long-term public education programmes to end the culture of gender based violence including.

Make laws count: get each government agency to produce a detailed action plan to end violence against women, and adopt a Code of Conduct in the Vidhan Sabha.

Responsive police: establish and enforce a public protocol for police response to crimes against women.

Faster, competent courts: establish more fast track courts for crimes of violence against women, and work to reform court procedures to address victims' needs.

Support to survivors: fund and set up one-stop 24 hour crisis centres in hospitals to provide comprehensive services to women who are victims of violent crimes.

Safe streets, safe city: ensure Delhi is safe to move around, day and night, by setting up night shelters, creches, and women's toilets, and improving transport services.

The Womanifesto and online campaign can be seen here:

Avaaz is a 30-million-person global civic network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. Its movement is spread across 194 countries on 5 continents and operates in 16 languages with 800,000 members in India.

--IBNS (Posted on 03-12-2013)

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