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How Vulnerable Is A Woman In Public?

While discussing certain recent events, a few of us wondered if there was even a single woman who has never been harassed in public.

Women are extremely vulnerable in public spaces. We are constantly scanning the environment, assessing the risks and keeping an escape plan ready. We avoid certain situations where we suspect there could be a high probability of being harassed. Some of us look at mitigating the damage, the rest are on flight or fight mode.

But most of us know that every time we step out of the house, we are putting ourselves in danger of being harassed.

While discussing certain recent events, a few of us wondered if there was even a single woman who has never been harassed in public. The only way to find out was by creating a poll, which would give a dipstick analysis of how deep seated the problem really is.

The poll was simple, and addressed only at women

“Have you ever been sexually assaulted, harassed or made to feel vulnerable in a public place?”

Two choices were provided- No/ Yes

To add one level of hygiene, people who said they had never been harassed in public were requested to leave a comment, so the numbers could be cross verified.

At the request of men who wanted to see the results, the original poll was deleted and a new one created which had a third option- ‘male. Here for results’.

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The results

Of the 272 women who responded, 238 (86%) said they had been assaulted, sexually harassed or made to feel vulnerable in a public space at least once.

Of the female respondents in the poll, only 14% reported never having been assaulted, sexually harassed or made to feel vulnerable in a public space. However, this number may not reflect reality, because only three of the 38 respondents left a comment identifying themselves. Assuming all who voted read the instructions carefully, only 1% of the respondents have never been made to feel vulnerable in public.

In the absence of data, it would not be fair to speculate on whether (from among those who participated) the number of women who have never been harassed is 1% or 14%. But regardless of the exact percentage, it is clear than an overwhelming majority of women have been sexually harassed.

Image source: YouTube/ MS Creations Films

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About the Author

Natasha Ramarathnam

Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...

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