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Girls feel unsafe in public spaces, says ‘Save The Children’ report

Girls living both in urban and rural areas of the country fear harassment while encountering public spaces, states a recent report released by leading child rights organisation “Save the Children” titled Wings 2018: World of India Girls, A Study on perception of girls safety in public spaces.

The report states that one in every three adolescent girls surveyed were “scared of traversing the narrow by-lanes of their locality, as well as the road to go to school or the local market”.

“In rural areas one in four adolescent girls felt unsafe when using open spaces/agricultural fields for open defecation. Nearly three in five girls reported feeling unsafe in situations where the public place was overcrowded,” the report states.

Among other factors, which determined perception of adolescent girls about their safety in public spaces, limited family support systems turned out to an important factor.

“Over 50 % parents agreed that they will probably end up scolding their daughters for letting this happen; and 42 % feel that they are likely to regulate their daughters’ movement in public spaces if they came to know of any incidence of harassment experienced by their daughters,” the report states.

The findings of the study also indicated that girls and their families were not confident of reporting to the police.

The perception of adolescent girls about their safety in public is also determined by smaller factors like the presence of inadequate lighting.

“60% of adolescent girls expressed feeling unsafe in streets or other public spaces with inadequate lighting,” the report states.

Apprehension about using public transport, particularly using over-crowded buses, trains, metros, local trains was recorded among these girls and parents. “Over one in every four adolescent girls perceived the threat of being physically assaulted, including getting raped, while venturing into public spaces, while one in three expected to be inappropriately touched or even stalked,” the report stated.

Vishal Chowla, Chief Operating Officer “Save the Children” said that it is everyone responsibility to create awareness and provide support to ensure the girls in our country feel safe when they step out of their homes. “The role of by-standers was also pointed at as an area [in the report] where girls expect lot more support,” he said.

Methodology of research

The report was based on a survey collected from six regions of the country, where samples were collected from 30 cities of varying sizes and the rural samples were from 84 villages in 12 districts across the country. Six States, each representing each of the region of the country, has been selected on the basis of high cases of crime against women as recorded by National Crime Records Bureau data, high instances of child marriage, among other factors. The States from which the samples were collected are Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

The results have been arrived at on the basis of the survey conducted at 5,359 respondents across urban and rural segments, including 3,128 adolescent girls aged between 11-18 years. The other respondents were married women between 19-22 years old, adolescent boys (aged 15-18 years old) and parents of adolescent girls.

Save the Children, came out with more data on the issue of girls’ safety in public places by conducting an online survey for people between 25 and 35 years of age. Among the people who took the survey, only 13 % felt that girls are safe while travelling alone using public transport and 95% felt that the biggest fear of girls in public places is sexual abuse.


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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 12:46:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/girls-feel-unsafe-in-public-spaces-says-save-the-children-report/article24107876.ece

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