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The sexual street harassment battle: perceptions of women in urban India

Jehangir Bharucha (H.R. College, Mumbai, India) (Lincoln University College, Selangor, Malaysia)
Rita Khatri (Department of Commerce and Management, H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai, India)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 9 April 2018




In India, women feel unsafe particularly in public spaces and single women feel threatened in almost every context (Nag, 2016). The purpose of this paper is to examine women’s safety in the metropolitan city of Mumbai and argue that we need to address this issue and respond to the dearth of firsthand knowledge about women’s safety in India which is investigated in light of the social and cultural milieu. The study makes several recommendations based on the research findings.


The data collection was done in three separate stages. In the first phase, a structured questionnaire was administered orally to around 300 working women all over the city of Mumbai and its suburbs. The second stage adopted an exploratory qualitative approach using in-depth interviews and reflections. In the third stage, the authors audited busy areas on various parameters that might hamper women’s safety.


All the raw data obtained were analyzed using qualitative data coding and categorized to generate themes. Six clear themes emerged which include: perception of safety; safety in transportation; actual violation of personal or physical safety; negligible reaction by the victims; experience with the police; and firsthand recommendations and strategies. This study brings to light the disturbing fact that 91 percent of women worry about their safety all the time or most of the time when they are outside their homes. On the streets of the city almost all had experienced some tangible threats to their safety at some point of time.


Hypocrisy in the treatment of women is precisely what makes India unsafe for women. Although Mumbai ranks as the safest city in India, the study portrays that it is unsafe and fearsome for women. The recent much publicized crimes against women especially rape cases have made women’s safety an important topic for research. Not much primary research exists in this area.



Bharucha, J. and Khatri, R. (2018), "The sexual street harassment battle: perceptions of women in urban India", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 101-109.



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