Capturing Gender and Class Inequities: The CCTVisation of Delhi

Aayush Rathi & Ambika Tandon


Cityscapes across the global South, following historical trends in the North, are increasingly being littered by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. In this paper, we study the wholesale implementation of CCTV in New Delhi, a city notorious for incredibly high rates of crime against women. The push for CCTV, then, became one of many approaches explored by the state in making the city safer for women.

In this paper, we deconstruct this narrative of greater surveillance equating to greater safety by using empirical evidence to understand the subjective experience of surveilling and being surveilled. By focussing on gender and utilising work from feminist thought, we find that the experience of surveillance is intersectionally mediated along the axes of class and gender. The gaze of CCTV is cast upon those already marginalised to arrive at normative encumbrances placed by private, neoliberal interests on the urban public space. The politicisation of CCTV has happened in this context, and continues unabated in the absence of any concerted policy apparatus regulating it. We frame our findings utilising an analytical data justice framework put forth by Heeks and Shekhar (2019). This comprehensively sets out a social justice agenda that situates CCTV within the socio-political contexts that are intertwined in the development and implementation of the technology itself.

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