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每日英語跟讀 Ep.960: As Traffic Signals Change, Some See a Token Gesture
At one of the most prominent street crossings in Mumbai, the little people in the signal lights have swapped their straight-legged trousers for triangular frocks.
The city, India’s largest, last month installed 240 pedestrian signals that replaced male stick figures with female silhouettes along a stretch of road in the Dadar neighborhood. Mumbai is the first city in the country to install such signals, and officials say the initiative represents a commitment to empower women.
The government “is ensuring gender equality with a simple idea — the signals now have women, too,” wrote Aaditya Thackeray, the tourism and environment minister for Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.
But critics called the move a superficial token that would do little to fix entrenched issues of gender inequality in India. While women have occupied powerful positions in the country — Indira Gandhi became India’s first female prime minister — instances of high-profile violence against women in public have left many reluctant to leave home unaccompanied after dark. And domestic abuse and sexual assault are the most common crimes against women and girls, according to government statistics.
Women in India also face obstacles in education and employment. For every 100 boys in the country, only 73 girls are enrolled in secondary schools, according to government statistics. And women work fewer paid hours than men, bearing the brunt of unpaid domestic labor.
“It’s a gesture, but a tacky one,” said Pooja Sastry, a 32-year-old urban planner from Bangalore. “Those stick figures don’t make us feel any safer on the road.”“It means nothing for the average Indian woman, or a female construction worker crossing the road for her daily wage job,” she added. “The crime rate isn’t going to come down. Domestic violence isn’t going to come down.”
A brutal gang rape on a Delhi bus in 2012 shook the country, setting off protests and discussions of women’s safety in cities. It also led to stricter punishment for crimes against women, including the death penalty for rape.
But sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence have remained persistent. The country — which was found to be the most dangerous place for women when it comes to sexual violence and harassment, according to a 2018 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of 550 global experts — reported 33,356 rapes and 89,097 assaults against women that year, according to government statistics.
When Thackeray tried in January to introduce more night cafes and 24-hour gyms and movie theaters in Mumbai in an attempt to add vitality to city life, his political rivals from the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed the plan because they said it would make women more vulnerable to rape.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/357470/web/#2L-17866414L