Urban redevelopment in India over recent decades has had particular implications for women. While the economic deregulation of the 1990s opened up new possibilities for work, leisure and relationships, it has also led to new stresses. Cities such as New Delhi have become sites for experimentation, autonomy and aspiration for women. Yet against these images of emancipation can be juxtaposed everyday risks and vulnerabilities.
Contradictions abound in a space that values the woman’s body as a liberalised commodity. Women are under constant scrutiny: for what they wear, how they behave, where they are going, who they are with, at what time of day or night. They are under pressure to conform to familiar boundaries of tradition and class. Challenging these boundaries carries the risk of psycho-social dissonance and assault of various kinds.