Women's safety and security at SimplyGuest

Change Begins at SimplyGuest Homes

We are fortunate to be part of a generation in which women enjoy greater access to many things that were beyond their reach not too long ago. It is indeed easier and more normalised for a woman to aspire to do practically anything that was once considered to be part of masculine territory. And yet, every day, you are given a harsh reality check when you come across seemingly unending accounts of violence against and exploitation of women. While women may have broken the glass ceiling and entered several professional fields that they couldn’t before, you can’t run away from the fact that there is a conspicuous wage gap in almost every field. These are only a few examples reflecting why, even if we’d like to believe otherwise, gender equality is as much a problem today as it was a few years ago. Simply put, as much access as the women of today enjoy, they are faced with an equal (and in some cases, greater) number of obstacles.

For example, a working woman and a working man living independently in a city both have the freedom or the permission to stay out and roam the city as late as they want- in theory. Thus, they may have equal access here. In reality, however, the chances of the woman encountering harmful elements such as sexual harassers at night – or the obstacles – are much higher, which means that nine out of ten times, she will choose to be back home by an “appropriate” time even if she doesn’t really want to.

It is an undeniable fact that safety is a huge issue for women today. It is in fact one of the biggest reasons why women – unlike most men – shy away from moving to a different town or city where they’d have to live alone and far away from familial support in order to progress in their careers. One of our primary objectives at SimplyGuest is to find a working solution for this problem; if a woman has the skills and knowledge for a job that she actually wants to do, nothing else should come in the way of this.

In an ideal world, no woman would have to “be careful” any more so than a man, and yes, several indicators point to the fact that a happy scenario like that might not be impossible to achieve. That said, the world we live in today is far from ideal, and every woman has the absolute right to prioritise her safety above everything else. When her safety is a given, she can then focus on forging her way ahead at her workplace without worrying too much about getting back home safely late at night. To give single working women this guarantee of safety and security is SimplyGuest’s primary objective. To that end, we have implemented several measures.

Before we register any property on our platform, we ensure that it is in a comparatively safe locality, with enough activity occurring well into the night. We also try to ensure that our houses are located close to major workplaces and have all day-to-day facilities such as supermarkets and pharmacies in the near vicinity so that no resident is forced to travel large distances for anything. Further, our houses all come with security provisions in some form or the other – this could be anything from round-the-clock security personnel to CCTV supervision depending on the type of property. We also conduct proper background checks into any new person moving into a property to keep harmful elements at bay, and while this may sound controversial, we do not allow men to stay in a female tenants’ house (only shared houses and hostels) beyond a certain hour, simply as an objective safety measure and privacy.

While that takes care of safety, we also realise that our endeavours must, on some level, promote equality and not hinder it. With this in mind, we promise all our tenants that we will not engage in or permit moral policing of any sort. There are no curfews, and our tenants are free to come in and go as and when they like, regardless of the time of the day or night. We also earnestly hope that a platform such as ours is an effective solution to the problems of stereotyping and judgement that single women often face when house-hunting through landlords and brokers in India.

Unfortunate as it may be, the Indian mindset is still one that largely prevents women from going out and being successful. That fact may be changing quickly in many urban spaces, but it certainly remains unchanged in a very large part of the country. There is always the question of how a single woman will take care of herself and whom she will rely on if she moves out to the city for work or education. One step towards solving this problem is encouraging women to move into shared homes where each tenant can be a support system to the other and boost each other’s confidence till every woman can be as independent as any human can be. We ensure that each of our homes also have all the amenities required to facilitate this sense of complete independence in our tenants.

And finally, SimplyGuest is a fully technology-enabled platform. What this implies is that all information about tenants and our operations is available online, and so is the record of any complaints made by or against tenants; we will ensure that the voices of our tenants do not go unheard, and that they are comfortable in the knowledge that we are always there to help them solve their problems, if that is what they want.

Nothing ever changes overnight, and we are all victims and perpetrators of patriarchy on some level. What we can do, however, is recognise and acknowledge those aspects of our day-to-day habits and attitudes that propagate this patriarchy and make conscious efforts to do away with them. If we can go even a little bit beyond our way to make up for and reverse the centuries of injustice undergone by some genders, the world would become a much better place very soon.