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Odd even policy: Do Delhi women deserve Kejriwal's patronising exemption?

Geetika Mantri | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 12:42 IST
  • By exempting me from your odd even policy, you are abdicating yourself of the responsibility to provide safe public transport for women.
  • Further, you are questioning my right to equality.
  • It doesn\'t make me feel special when you are reinforcing age-old stereotypes of women being the weaker gender.

Dear Mr. Kejriwal,

You came into the limelight as a person who takes risks. You contested Delhi with a one-year-old party and became the chief minister of the national capital. And then you won over the people again this year.

You haven't been afraid of taking chances, sometimes drastic ones, and I respect you for that.

So when you proposed the odd-even formula for our "gas-chamber" of a city, the idea grew on me despite my initial shock. It was radical! No one dares to piss off the over-speeding 'bade baap ka betas' as you must have done that day by depriving them of their snazzy rides.

And then came the exemptions. First it was the public transport, followed by cabs, rickshaws, ambulances, senior citizens - all this made sense to me.

Then you exempted vehicles being driven by working women and single women drivers from the odd-even policy. The reason being, as always, security.

I'm a woman, so do hear me out when I say this - I don't think being a single woman driver would make me any more or any less vulnerable to whatever you think I need protection from.

I am equally, if not more, capable of using public transport as any of your ministers. I have traveled in the general compartment of the Delhi metro, wedged between bodies, during peak hours. I have taken cabs and autos after a late night. I have taken a DTC bus across the city and reached home at 10 in the night.

And yes, like any woman who so much as walks on the street in broad daylight, I have had men stare at me or make lewd gestures at me. And you know what? I don't mind because I know how to take care of myself. I have stared right back, and I have dragged them to the police if I have had to.

So, you aren't empowering me by exempting my car from the odd-even treatment. I wasn't empowered when women were exempted from wearing helmets either. I mean, the bones in my head aren't any stronger than a man's. Is my life less important? No. So why the special treatment?

You are, once again, legitimising the same mentality that causes me to be treated as property that needs protection. What makes you think I'm suddenly safe when there's a man with me in the car than when there isn't? Is that not for me to decide?

For someone who falls in the masculine nomenclature of "aam aadmi" I'd like to pitch my two cents into your radical policy.

How about making public transport safe for me? Now THAT would be empowering. But I understand that you're all about drastic measures right now. I understand that not everyone can speak up against a man who stares at her. We've been taught to keep our head down and walk away.

I'm not qualified enough to give you policy suggestions, but how about say, a few women-only buses instead? Because if you can't empower Delhi's women right away, gender-sensitivity would be a nice little middle ground.

And because, I think the women of this city would, for once, like to be treated as equal and not as 'abla-besahara naaris'.

Before you brand me as an ungrateful feminazi, I have something to ask you about my male counterparts too. If your argument is that the women living alone with only one car need the exemption, doesn't the same apply for men in similar situations as well?

So, Mr. Kejriwal, unless being a woman makes me breathe any less of this city's air, I politely turn down your protection.

I would ask you to treat me as citizen than as a beti, maa or behen who needs fortification. I don't need you to LET me be independent.


A single woman who owns a car

First published: 10 December 2015, 9:05 IST