A few days after the news of 91% pickpockets in Delhi Metro being women broke, DMRC has now decided to allow women passengers to carry knives in Delhi metro to protect themselves from molesters. Not just knives, lighters, and matchboxes are allowed too.

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While people are applauding this move by CISF (Central Industrial Security Force), the decision can have several repercussions in the long run. For one, it will put the safety of passengers in Delhi Metro in jeopardy. Previously, Delhi Metro officials didn’t allow the passengers to carry knives irrespective of their gender. The premises in Delhi metro were free from sharp objects and inflammable substances, both of which can be extremely dangerous if they end up in the hands of the wrong person.

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Now that approximately one-fourth of the population in Delhi Metro is allowed to carry it, the safety of the passengers is jeopardised. Just because women are carrying the knives doesn’t mean they are the ones who’ll use it. CISF caught several gangs of pickpockets consisting of both men and women whose modus operandi is targeting individuals with valuables and coercing them into giving up their valuables.

Allowing knives will only help such gangs and picket pockets in their anti-social activities and increase the crime rate. Secondly, just because the knives are allowed so the women can protect themselves against the molesters (a move that is being lauded given the recent mass molestation in Bangalore) doesn’t mean that they’ll be used for the same.

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India has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of women criminals in the past years. The National Crime Reports Bureau’s data shows that the number of women criminals in India has increased from 5.4% in 2001 to 6.4% in 2009. In 2014, 1,94,867 women criminals were recorded for crimes ranging from rape to murder.

Monsters come in all genders. And assuming that women are not capable of committing such heinous and violent crimes is not only sexist because it negates the possibility of women being capable of such violence but also patriarchal.
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DMRC has allowed women to carry knives in metro so they can protect themselves from molesters. Who is the molester? Who gets stabbed and who doesn’t? The woman carrying the knife decides on the answer to these questions as per her own discretion.  The discretion can be wrong at times and it also gives room to women to misuse the power.

Section 498a (Anti-Dowry law) and Domestic Violence Act have been misused by women, so much so that the Supreme Court of India called it “legal terrorism” for there was a backlog of cases registered by women against men to extort money- most of which resulted in acquittal. Based on the statistics alone, one cannot deny the possibility that some women might misuse the liberty to carry knives to further their malevolent interests.

Commuters travel in a metro in New Delhi on June 26th 2014. The Phase III of the Delhi metro, the Mandi House to Central Secretariat, covers a distance of 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) is open to public on Thursday and is estimated to benefit 70,000 commuters. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

Commuters travel in a metro in New Delhi on June 26th 2014. The Phase III of the Delhi metro, the Mandi House to Central Secretariat, covers a distance of 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) is open to public on Thursday and is estimated to benefit 70,000 commuters. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

Lastly, allowing women to carry knives is wrong not just because of the high possibility of misuse. It’s wrong because it encourages violence and vigilantism. While eve teasing and molestation are serious issues in India and there is an urgent need to take steps to curb them, one can simply not take law in their hands and deliver justice as they deem fit.

What may be justice for one, can be unfair to the other? That’s precisely why we have the courts in India so people don’t take law in their hands and deliver what they feel is justice. Allowing women to carry knives is giving them the power to stab any man whom they feel is a molester which not only leaves room for misuse but also because it encourages mob justice and vigilantism which if encouraged will disrupt the peace and harmony of the society.

Given the misuse and a possible increase in vigilantism and mob justice, is DMRC’s decision is justified? You decide.