Sexual harassment in public places is a common occurrence in India. According to a recent national survey, one in three adolescent girls in India is afraid about being sexually harassed in public spaces. While one in five of the women interviewed in the survey expressed fears of physical assault, they were even sacred of being raped.

The survey was conducted by the NGO ‘Save the Children’. The data was collected under the survey called ‘WINGS 2018: World of India’s Girls- a study on the perception of girls’ safety in public spaces’.

More than two-thirds of adolescent girls from urban and rural areas who are surveyed said that in the case of any harassment in public places, they would like to share that incident with their mothers, the report has further discovered.

In the survey, nearly two out of five teenage girls said that if their parents came to know about the harassment that they faced in public spaces, they would not allow them to go out again.

The WINGS 2018 survey was carried out in a large number of public places. The number of adolescent girls and boys who were surveyed was more than 4,000 and were from across multiple locations in India. Additionally, the survey also interviewed about 800 parents of adolescent girls. They survey was conducted in six states and within 30 cities and 84 villages in 12 districts of Delhi-NCR, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal, Assam and Madhya Pradesh.

On Tuesday the report of the survey was made public by the Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

“Women and girls must be at the heart of policies that guide urban development. The processes should not be prescriptive and hence it is important that from policies to its execution, it has participation of girls and women.

“The philosophy of new India 2022 has to be routed through the Sarvodaya and Antodaya- that means ‘the last first’. So, let us begin from the most marginalised girls and women”, Puri said.

In modern society, securing women safety would be possible by securing their rights, said Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. The safety of the women in the society should be the most important focus for the country, she added.

Gandhi also said: “The Indian government has enabled progressive laws like the POCSO Act, 2012, and the Criminal Amendments Act, 2013, but a part of the onus lies with families and communities towards ensuring girl’s safety.’’

(Adapted from TheTimesOfIndia.com)