80% of Delhi women fear for their safety
Two out of three women in Delhi have suffered sexual harassment at least two to five times in the last year. Female respondents to a survey expressed a dismal lack of confidence in the police to curb harassment, with only 0.8% reporting such incidents to the authorities
Nearly 80% of women in Delhi fear for their safety in the city, says a new survey conducted by the Delhi government’s Women and Child Development Department, NGO Jagori, and the international organisation Unifem.
The survey ‘Safe Cities Baseline Survey-Delhi 2010’ gathered and analysed information about the nature and forms of gender-based violence and harassment faced by women, the role of governing agencies and the police in safeguarding women’s rights, and societal perceptions and attitudes towards sexual harassment.
The survey is based on interviews of 5,010 people, including 3,816 women and 944 men. The rest are common witnesses like bus conductors, shopkeepers and auto drivers who have possibly witnessed acts of sexual harassment against women.
“Nearly three out of every five women reported facing sexual harassment not only after dark but also through the day. But it is a good sign that 68% of the women deal with harassment in some way, like confronting the perpetrator or seeking help from family and friends,” said Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia, who also looks after the Women and Child Development Department.
The main reasons for sexual harassment identified in the survey include lack of gender-friendly and functional infrastructure such as adequate lighting, sidewalks and safe public toilets; open consumption of alcohol and drugs by men; and lack of an effective and visible police presence.
Female respondents expressed a dismal lack of confidence in the police to curb harassment, with only 0.8% reporting such incidents to the authorities. The vast majority responded to harassment by confronting the perpetrator themselves or seeking help from family and friends. The lack of faith in the police extended across all occupational groups.
Walia said public transport, buses and roads with faulty streetlights are spaces where women and girls face high levels of sexual harassment. “There was a necessity to understand the problem. Now we have realised the problem we will be able to find a solution. For instance, we will write for CCTVs to be installed in buses and also make sure that sexual harassment becomes a non-bailable offence through changes in the CrPC,” she added.
The report on the findings of the survey included a number of recommendations like improving public infrastructure such as streetlights, sidewalks and privacy of public women’s toilets, publicising the use of helplines, deploying more policemen, and sensitising the public.