It just doesn’t seem to be getting any better for women in the Capital. Women in the city complain and continue to be the most unsafe on the roads, while using public transport, in market places, and outside liquor shops, with the maximum incidents of sexual harassment occurring in broad daylight (74 per cent) rather than after dark (13 per cent).

In terms of the types of harassment they routinely face, verbal and visual harassment are reported to be the most common, followed by stalking. Worse, only less than one per cent of the women ever attempt to report the sexual harassment to the police.

These startling facts have emerged from the data of a “Baseline survey of women’s safety in Delhi-2010” conducted by the Delhi Government’s Department of Women & Child Development along with non-government organisation Jagori, UN-Habitat and UN-Women.

It also reveals that women in the Capital do not trust the Delhi Police. While the police claim that they organise at least one/two special training capsules a month aimed at training police personnel to be sensitive while dealing with cases relating to women, the survey found that in Delhi most women found the police “unresponsive and uncooperative, and sometimes involved in criminal activities themselves, and therefore would be approached by them only as a last resort.”

The survey has come five years after the Delhi Government’s report on “Making Women More Secure in Delhi: Towards Confidence Building and Tackling Sexual Harassment, Initiatives by the Delhi Government.”

On the latest findings, Jagori’s Kalpana Viswanath says: “For this latest survey in Delhi we interacted with over 5,000 respondents (men, women and common witnesses) and found that among the factors contributing to the lack of safety for women in the city were poor lighting on the streets, inadequately maintained/non-existent pavements, and ill-designed men’s urinals. Women also said that the societal attitude towards them, which is discriminatory, deepens their sense of exclusion.”

“Sexual harassment robs the women in Delhi of their right to move around the Capital freely, use and access public spaces and services and make the best of the opportunities the Capital has to offer,” says Dr. Viswanath.

The survey also looked at issues related to urban planning and design of public spaces, public transport, policing, legislation and support to the victim, education and generation of civic awareness about sexual harassment.

Delhi’s Women & Child Development Minister Kiran Walia noted: “Women safety and empowerment is an issue that is taken very seriously and is reflected in the various initiatives undertaken by the Delhi Government. Efforts and steps have been taken to increase police presence across the city and programmes have been initiated at district level to help women feel safe in the city. Most importantly, people too have to become proactive and help/speak up when they see a woman being harassed.”

Rubbishing the claims made by the Delhi Government and Delhi Police, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) secretary Annie Raja says: “The reality is that in the Capital women/girls continue to not even have something as basic as a safe, clean toilet. They continue to be vulnerable even as they walk across the streets in the Capital. A lot is being said but sadly nothing has translated into actual work which ensures that women are given all the rights as a citizen.”

“In the Capital, the Delhi Police are now posting posters instructing women on how to stay safe. We don’t want ourselves to be restricted in the name of security. I as a woman don’t want special treatment, I just want to be acknowledged and my rights respected as a human being and citizen of the country, which neither the national nor the state government and its various schemes have been able to ensure,” adds Ms. Raja.

  • Maximum incidents of sexual harassment occurr in broad daylight rather than after dark

  • Verbal and visual harassment were reported to be the most common, followed by stalking