Streets, bus stands, railway stations, parks and other public places should be for everyone to access and enjoy. Yet for many women they are the scenes of harassment. Everyday women face systematic assault on their fundamental right to free movement and personal dignity.
Sexual harassment at public places is unwelcome, unsolicited behavior of a sexual nature including staring, gesticulating, touching, passing comments, trailing. These may not seem to be a big problem, but they can be quite upsetting. It makes women feel ashamed, humiliated or frightened.
How to deal with sexual harassment:
- It is not possible to have one single strategy to address this. It is important to make a judgment on the spot depending on the context.
- Learn to say 'NO' loudly and clearly. Prepare a stock sentence (like "Stop staring at me") and practise saying it to yourself until it becomes a reflex. If you are harassed, repeat it again and again till you feel confident to use in public place.
- Learn to communicate confidence in yourself. Look straight at people who accost you and speak clearly and calmly in response. Show others that you are aware of your rights and space.
- If you are in a bus the driver & conductor can be approached for complaints. As per law they should assist the victim by accompanying them to the nearest police station.
- Carrying with you safety pins and learning self defence techniques can be helpful.
- If you are being harassed regularly it is better if you inform the same to your parents/friends. It can be therapeutic and supportive. Many women face this problem and understand what you are experiencing.
What men can do to stop harassment:
- Don't do it yourself. Learn about the problem so that you become more sensitive to what might offend others.
- Don't cooperate with groups of men who harass. Act to frustrate or oppose harassment. Don't cooperate with harassment. Refuse to join in.
- At a suitable occasion, raise issues about sexual harassment.
- Show your opposition strongly
- If you notice a situation where a woman seems to be being harassed, you may be able to help her
- If someone is badgering her, you could go over and ask "Is someone bothering you?" If a woman in a crowd shouts out about being pawed, you might be able to voice a supportive comment to the crowd, such as "Whoever did that, it's not welcome."