New Delhi: More than four in 10 women (41%) in India experience harassment or violence before the age of 19, according to a new ActionAid research. The four-nation survey conducted by the international women and child rights NGO also revealed that women experience harassment for the first time at a very young age with 6% of them experiencing it before the age of 10 in India. The figure for Brazil is 16%, while it is 12% in UK and 8% in Thailand. The survey will be released on Friday.
The research also found that around 73% of women in India have experienced some form of violence or harassment in the past month. The figure is higher in other countries with 87% of women polled in Brazil and 67% in Thailand having been subjected to harassment or violence in the past month. In UK, it was 57%. More than one in four (26%) women in India said they had been groped in the past month. This compared with one in five women in Brazil (20%), one in four women in Thailand (26%) and one in six in UK (16%), according to the YouGov poll of over 2,500 women aged 18 and above. The poll was commissioned to mark International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and was conducted online with 2,518 participants.
The findings also show how women are increasingly taking steps in their daily lives to guard against such threats. More than 82% women in India said they had taken steps to protect themselves against harassment. This figure was 91% for women between 25 and 34 years old. The measures they take range from avoiding parks and poorly lit areas (35%) and changing a travel route (36%) to using everyday objects like keys as a weapon (23%) or carrying a protective device such as a rape alarm or pepper spray (18%).
Speaking about the survey, ActionAid India executive director Sandeep Chachra said, “Cross country findings suggest immediate action is needed to curb harassment and violence against women. While awareness on rights of women, women’s abilities and potential has increased over decades, we are still a long way off from realizing the promise of a just and equal world for half of our humanity. Threats to safety of women are directly related to patriarchal mindsets that manifest itself on streets, at the workplace and at homes.”