Chandigarh: The Haryana Police’s first ever survey on harassment of women has found that the maximum number of such incidents occur when victims travel to and from schools, colleges and offices.
“The online survey was conducted from May 2 to May 17 with an aim to assess the nature and scale of the problem in the state and devise an action plan which is closer to the ground reality,” Additional Director General of Police, O P Singh said on Thursday.
A total of 28,539 people from all over the state participated in the survey.
Among the respondents, 40 per cent were females of 14 years and above, he told PTI.
“It is the biggest ever sample size for a population of 2.5 crore and the most exhaustive one,” he said, adding that a total of 16 questions covering all aspects of women harassment were asked from the respondents and people from all age groups, gender and districts participated in the exercise.
Quoting the survey, Mr Singh said, “Woman harassment is a major problem as eight out of ten respondents feared it in various degrees. Commuting to schools, colleges and workplaces is problematic as six out of ten said harassment incidents take place during commute.”
Seven out of ten said men who harass women use public transport or bikes. Seven out of ten said they operate in groups.
“Schools, colleges, markets, parks and public transports are the affected places,” he said.
On being asked whether they fear harassment, 85.2 per cent of the respondents replied in affirmative, while 24.4 per cent said they ‘felt it always’, 38 per cent said ‘most of the time’, 23.4 per cent ‘occasionally’ and 14.2 per cent said they ‘never feared’ such incidents.
A majority of 64.5 per cent said harassment takes place during commuting to and from schools, colleges and offices, while 22.2 per cent said they encountered it in the evenings in parks, markets and coaching centres.
32.8 per cent said they feared it most in schools and colleges, 26.7 per cent in markets, 19.9 per cent in public transport, 16.5 per cent in parks, while 4.1 per cent said they fear it in workplaces, according to the survey.
39.1 per cent of the respondents said the maximum instances of women harassment take place in buses, while 30 per cent said they happen in trains, 14.8 per cent said in three-wheelers and 16.1 per cent said such incidents take place when one is out for walking.
“37.5 per cent respondents said men who harass women use public transport, 32.8 per cent said they use two-wheelers, 22.8 per cent said they were among walkers and only 6.9 per cent blamed the car users.”
“As many as 40.4 per cent said men who harass women operate in a group of two, 25.2 per cent said in four and 23.1 per cent said they operate alone. Only 11.3 per cent said they operate in a group of more than four,” the survey said.
Also, 40.2 per cent said men who harass women were ‘irritating’, 23.5 per cent said they were ‘dangerous’, 18.1 per cent said they were ‘criminals’ and 18.2 per cent said they were ‘harmless’.
If these men were under 20 years of age, 36.3 per cent respondents said they should be counselled in presence of parents, 33.1 per cent said they should be chided publicly, 18.2 per cent wanted them to be beaten up and 12.3 per cent said the culprits should be jailed right away.
According to the survey, as many as 22.4 per cent respondents said counselling men in presence of parents would not make any difference, 34.3 per cent said it would incite them to be even more aggressive. However, 30.4 per cent said it would deter them and 12.9 per cent said it would deter even their friends.
34.2 per cent of the respondents said police can stop harassment of women more effectively by catching those in the wrong with the help of plain clothed lady policemen, while 26.6 per cent said uniformed police patrolling would be a better option.
Also, 20 per cent of the respondents preferred information and warning boards in harassment prone areas, while 19.2 per cent said CCTV would be a better bet.
On the safety quotient of Haryana, 27.5 per cent of respondents rated the state as ‘quite safe’, 40.6 per cent said it is ‘safer than neighbouring states’, 19.6 per cent said it is ‘as bad as neighbouring state’ and 12.3 per cent said that it is ‘quite unsafe’.
35.8 per cent of respondents rated the state police’s record on women safety as ‘good’, 33.3 per cent as ‘very good’, 21.9 per cent as ‘excellent’ and 9 per cent as ‘bad’.
Suggesting remedial measures to curb the menace, the Additional Director General of Police said, “The survey shows that public transport, urban and local bodies and educational institutions need to invest more in women safety by way of warning signs and CCTV.”
“Cops need to patrol these areas more frequently and traffic police need to reign in lumpen bikers more aggressively,” he added.
The Haryana Police has so far arrested 15 people on charge of women harassment under ‘Operation Durga’, a campaign launched in the state on May 1 for ensuring women’s safety.
Through the ‘Youth Against Sexual Harassment’ initiative, the state police is also trying to make people, especially the youth, aware that how harassment hurts the freedom, dignity and career prospects of women.