India: Safe City Free of Violence Against Women and Girls Survey Results Released
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 10:45 AM

A recent study conducted in the Indian capital of Delhi reveals that most Delhi women feel unsafe in public spaces, with 85% reporting they were afraid of being sexually harassed. The study was carried out by a coalition of the Delhi governmentUNIFEMUN Habitat and JAGORI, a feminist Indian NGO. 
The study, in which over 5000 Delhi residents were interviewed between January and March 2010, sought to establish baseline data documenting the types of gendered violence and harassment faced by women, in addition to government responses to and social perceptions of these issues. 
Results revealed that close to two-thirds of women had experienced sexual harassment between two and five times in the preceding year. Though women of all social classes experienced harassment, students between the ages of fifteen and nineteen and women working in unorganized employment sectors were most likely to experience harassment.
Women reported that harassment most frequently took the form of verbal, visual and physical harassment, an account corroborated by men and “common witnesses” – individuals such as bus conductors and shopkeepers with a high probability of witnessing harassment.
The study also revealed that public transportation, buses and roadsides were spaces in which sexual harassment was more widespread, and infrastructure deficiencies such as a lack of streetlights were seen as contributing to the perpetuation of the problem. To reduce the risk of facing sexual harassment, women avoid being in public spaces after dark and alter their dress; to combat harassment when it has occurred, 68% of women respond in some way, whether by confronting the harasser or asking a friend or family member for help.
The survey results are part of a Strategic Framework developed to improve the safety of women and other vulnerable populations in Delhi. In consultation with other stakeholders such as the Departments of Education and Transport, the Delhi Police, men’s groups, and legal and human rights organizations, the coalition will seek to improve urban planning, public infrastructure and transport, public awareness, the gender-sensitivity of police responses, and implementation of legislation related to sexual harassment. As a part of these efforts, JAGORI has begun training transport crews in effective response strategies to sexual harassment.