A Baseline survey on women's safety of the nine districts of Delhi:2010

The study used purposive sampling methods to collect information from respondents belonging to diverse occupational categories spread across public places such as bus stops, markets and shopping malls in all nine districts of Delhi. The survey covered a total of 23 areas and 50 interview sites. The total sample of 5,010 included 3,816 women, 944 men and 250 common witnesses (see below). Men and women above 16 years of age were part of the sample group.

In the report, the term ‘common witness’ refers to men and women who, by virtue of being located physically closer to public places, have a high probability of witnessing acts of sexual harassment on women, like bus conductors, shopkeepers, auto drivers, etc. Each of the respondent categories was further divided into groups, broadly based on their occupation and nature of work, such as senior and mid-level workers, factory workers, home makers, students and others.

The study is unique, due to its huge sample size of 5010 covering all nine districts and in eliciting the perception and experience of men regarding the issue. Men felt very strongly that women are unsafe in the city and reported witnessing incidents in all parts of the city.

Major highlights

•Women of all classes have to contend with harassment as part of their daily lives. School and college students in the 15-19 age-group and women workers in the unorganized sectors are particularly vulnerable.
•Harassment occurs during day and night and in all kinds of public spaces, both secluded and crowded.
•Public transport, buses and roadsides are reported as spaces where women and girls face high levels of sexual harassment.
•The most common form of harassment reported is verbal (passing comments) and visual (staring and leering) and physical (touching/groping, leaning over etc.) This view was shared by women, men and ‘common witnesses’.
•Almost two out of every three women reported facing incidents of sexual harassment between 2-5 times in the past year.
•Three out of every five women reported facing sexual harassment not only after dark but through the day time as well.
•Higher proportion of men and ‘common witnesses’ – that is almost nine out of every 10 respondents – have witnessed incidents of sexual harassment of women after dark and during the day time.
•Poor infrastructure (including poor or absent streetlights), unusable pavements, lack of public toilets, open usage of drugs and alcohol are major reasons behind the lack of safety.
•The burden of ensuring safety remains upon women. They try to ensure their own safety by not visiting certain places, staying indoors after dark, maintaining a dress code, and carrying pepper spray and safety pins etc.
•A high percentage of women, around 68 % dealt with harassment in some way ; such as: confronting the perpetrator, seeking help from family and friends.
•Concerted efforts to sensitize people including the youth as partners in creating safer cities and conducive environments;