What part can women play in preventing sexual harassment against themselves?

What part can women play in preventing sexual harassment against themselves?

1. If they are mothers, they can raise their sons to see women as people/humans.

They can raise their daughters with awareness of their rights.

(People who do not blame themselves are less easy to bully. If they are not blamed, they would be more likely to fight back.

Criminals seem to choose vulnerable looking people, so looking like someone who would be difficult to harass could help.)

2. If they see a woman being harassed they can support her in whichever ways they safely can. Sometimes just standing next to her maybe enough, because most bullies are cowards, and two is stronger than one.

3. They can ensure that no man or woman ever hears them blame women’s clothing or life style for crimes against them. (i.e. making excuses for the harasser)

What else can Indian women do to make public spaces safer for themselves?


23 thoughts on “What part can women play in preventing sexual harassment against themselves?

  1. Share information about sexual harassment and laws with others…Be supportive of people who are facing a problem and encourage them to resist and take action…Be courageous to stand as a witness…In the workplace, ensure you communicate how you want to be treated with others…


  2. Attend movements organized for them as silent protests and marches, get on the roads, be vocal and stay strong for themselves and for others.! Initiate and sign petitions and tirelessly work for a change by launching a ground zero movement.! It is possible if women think beyond facebook, twitter and all the other social networking movements.!


  3. In addition to #3, women should give up the comfort of remaining silent when people around them (family, friends, colleagues, neighbors etc) put forward victim-blaming views. Silence is acknowledgement. A strongly worded objection can hopefully make people think twice.

    And women should simply go out to public spaces – with no discrimination as to what kind of space or what time of the day – more often and more assertively. For how long would we keep saying “Everybody tells us to stay in & stay safe.”? High time we stopped expecting permission or a welcoming carpet.


  4. I have many a times told men that even if a woman is walking down the street naked, no one, absolutely no one has the right to touch her. All the talk about the way she dresses is just crap.

    Act out how you would react in the event you are targeted by a pervert. Play it in your mind over and over again. If at all the unfortunate circumstance arises to you or any other woman near you, you will automatically lash out at the perp-just like how you had it in your mind. Be brave, empower yourself and most importantly be assertive.


  5. Very good post IHM.

    Mothers must teach their daughters to find their ‘voice’ and use it at all times. Let her know that the world may go against her…but her mother will stand by her, believe in her and support her decisions, actions no matter what. Show her practical solutions to deal with a problem and instill strength not fear. Speak to a daughter about her own experiences and what she did right or what she would have done differently if she knew better!!

    Include a young boy in such discussions whenever possible, whether your own son or not. It is important for boys to know what women face, what is normal, acceptable and what is not…
    It may be okay at one house for a man to shout at his wife, daughter…and a boy at this home must be watching and learning the same.

    But if he is allowed the knowledge of what the world (outside his home) thought of such behaviour through a neighbor or an aunt or a friend’s mother…he will definitely start questioning the men in his family.

    It always pays to be vigilant at all times and find out about a new area, before visiting the place. How safe it is at night…how deserted it gets and by what time? How long the shops remain open? Carry necessary medical supplies if travelling far so that one doesn’t have to go searching for a shop at night. Its always wise to travel or walk in groups. If needed, sleepover at a friends place for the night if you’re late. Precaution is better than prevention.

    If alone, keep pepper spray or a small utility knife, know how to use it!!!

    Last but not least, women, young and old must maintain a certain level of fitness. Workout, train in martial arts, dance, do yoga, join a gym…build muscle strength…every bit of physical strength empowers and enriches self-confidence.

    One strong, daring look from a confident woman- is all she needs at times to prevent a harrassment. Keep yourself safe and help someone in need…IHM is right, just stand by someone being victimized. Encourage others to join you.


    • // It always pays to be vigilant at all times and find out about a new area, before visiting the place. How safe it is at night…how deserted it gets and by what time? How long the shops remain open? Carry necessary medical supplies if travelling far so that one doesn’t have to go searching for a shop at night. Its always wise to travel or walk in groups. If needed, sleepover at a friends place for the night if you’re late. Precaution is better than prevention. //

      Do you think this would make public spaces safer for women?
      Do you think if women stopped going out at certain hours to certain places, then sexual harassment against women would come down?

      Instead, I would say, being vigilant and demanding safety for all citizens at all hours in all places, by refusing to be locked inside after dark etc… As in protests and demands, like women recently did in Gurgaon, when they were told not to work after eight.

      Also this traditional advice hasn’t helped women for centuries, instead it has become the norm to demand that women take these precautions or else…


      • No it will not make public places safer. If we are talking of ways to prevent harrassment and keep safe at all times, all places…I personally believe precaution always comes handy. The traditional advice to remain vigilant has been misinterpreted and misused as everything else.

        I bought a home in an area that my Indian friends had warned me against. But this place being closer to work and my kids school (looking into the future – their middle and high schools are in walking distance) I went ahead and bought it.

        My oldest daughter has returned home at 2 in the night, even later after a night shift. And except for a pepper spray, which she is afraid she might accidentally spray herself with than anyone else and which she lost anyway…I never armed her with anything else. I would stay awake until she returned at times…but you know what I don’t know if any place in the whole world is completely safe. I feel safe as long as I don’t trouble myself with other’s opinions and judgements. But then I don’t want to be sorry either. I have young kids and so I remain vigilant.

        Twice when I went for my walk at 5 in the morning, my American neighbors remarked – ‘walk safe’ or ‘be safe’…once one of them even asked me to be extra careful and keep a gun at home, ‘cuz I am single and their remarks irritated me initially. But come to think of it, there is nothing wrong in asking to be aware of your surroundings. These people have been here longer than I have, they must know better. I don’t have a gun and don’t plan to get one either but I haven’t dismissed their warnings altogether.

        There are things that we can do to keep ourselves safe…and there are things that are beyond our control. What’s wrong in being informed about your surroundings, your options and act accordingly?


      • I am all for protesting and demanding safety for all citizens at all hours, all places.
        Also what works here in my neighborhood is something called a ‘neighborhood watch’. All residents on our street meet once a month for a neighborhood vigil program that works in close association with the local Sheriff Department…and discuss on preventive safety measures. One old man across the street, right opposite my house is our appointed watchman…I don’t know about the neighborhood but he watches me, my family and my house so damn closely that I almost feel claustrophobic. I even retorted back the last time he asked me to be safe – ‘you scare me more than anything else on this street’…I said and stomped into my house!! I heard him say…’I watch’ … creeepppyy!!!!

        But I guess him watching the neighborhood has solved a few problems with other disruptive neighbors in the past.

        And such local programs can work anywhere. Old, retired people mostly volunteer for keeping a watch around the neighborhood I guess…they keep busy and feel useful as well.


  6. Learning some form of self defense. Carrying a pepper spray to use when the need arises. And most of all not taking any harassment lying down.


  7. Women should not remain silent if they are being targeted with harassment… speaking up usually does cow down the abuser.

    If possible, either the woman being harassed or another helpful woman around her should take a mugshot of the abuser with a cellphone camera, and report the incident to the cops.


  8. Women have to come together in public places and fight harassment. No point in looking for help from Husbands, Sons,brothers etc. Oppressed class will seldom get any help from a member of Oppressor group. A male may be bothered about his friend/relative being harassed. But most ppl do not bother about ‘others’ being harassed.
    Teaching ur kids from childhood about Gender issues may help. But one should also teach not to just watch when a stranger is being harassed in public places.


  9. Now this is a post that shud have been posted months ago, I feel what should be done. That is the question. Going all the time on what is happening or this and that is not going to solve anything.. but what should be done not just by a lady but by all of us.. because if a woman is harassed then we must realise that she could be our sister- mother – aunt – friend etc etc.. so it will disturb our family too..

    Me being me will say get together and beat the crap out of the guy….

    Take pictures of them put them for others to see name them and shame them


  10. Teach the kids as early as possible regarding the difference between good touch-bad touch. It goes a long way in creating awareness Also they must feel confident enough to voice their concerns without fear and hesitation – that comes with imbibing in them a sense of security. Secure that their parents trust them and believe them.

    Being pro active helps – trust your instinct, stay on vigil always and keep your friend(s) / close ones informed if you are going to some new places or meeting unknown people.

    Self-help is the best help. Learn to say no, assert yourself, equip yourself with some form of self-defense .


  11. Where can you buy pepper spray in India?
    A friend brought me a fist size aerosol canister that fits in a key fob dispenser from Israel. It shoots a 3-4 foot stream of ‘foaming gel’ (unlike spray you don’t have to worry about gassing yourself & innocent bystanders) that burns like pepper spray & leaves a nasty stench on your attacker. I’ve only had to use it once & it worked like a charm. Apparently the ‘stench’ is supposed to last for up to 2 weeks & can not be washed off.


    • Awesome Dude… I want one like that… the stench will also act as an alarm to other girls :D. Much better than pepper spray I tellya. Pepper spray is pretty dangerous. I wouldnt want to use it…
      Once in my univ class, a guy took out my pepper spray from my bag and sprayed it in class bcz he was ‘bored’. We all had breathing problems throughout the day and our poor prof who’s over 50 almost fainted!


  12. We as women need to learn to speak up. We (we denotes most of women folk not all) are okay speaking up/fighting with other women but not with men. Why? Is it because we feel inferior? Or we feel scared?

    My mother had always taught to speak up loudly in public if any body tries to do untoward act with us. And I’ve done so. Numerous times. Even to the point of slapping the person in public. And there have been times when I’ve not said a word. I don’t know why. But I guess I do. I remember once when I was making a hulla about a guy touching me at inappropriate place, a police fellow asked me what is the problem. When I told him that this fellow touched me inappropriately the police fellow scanned me up and down couple of times. I felt even more disgusted at that time. And I was just about 16-17. When we do not have even the people on the side of law behaving properly with us how do we expect the general public to?

    So we have us women to look up to for support and sadly there aren’t many who are ready to voice their support in times like these.

    So to summarize I really don’t know a sure shot way of dealing with it. But I do agree with the points that you have mentioned in your post.


  13. As a MOTHER – Discuss gender issues, issues of sexual harassment with your children in a conversational way (not as a lecture). Include your husband in the discussions as much as possible. Let it be known to your daughter and son that they have your support if they stand up against sexual harassment. Discourage family members from interacting with your children based on gender stereotypes – example, referring to your son as ‘khandaan ka chirag’ or whatever – or exclaiming your daughter has ‘grown’ so you must start groom-hunting.

    As a SISTER – share your experiences as a woman in the outside world with your brother as often as possible, so that he understands ground realities and passes on the same message to his friends.

    As a WIFE – ensure there is always a sense of equality and respect between you and your husband, and your children ‘see’ and experience that EVERYDAY.

    As a TEACHER – ensure you discuss concepts such as civic rights, individual rights IN RELATION to genders. Allow students to think, discuss and introspect on these issues especially when it comes to how these rights are perceived based on gender-specific roles. Discuss the psychology of harassment – let the message be clear that harassers are mentally sick in some way, and victims can never ever take the blame. The more this is discussed in educational institutions, the higher the chances that youngsters will mould in a better way.

    As a POLICE/LAW ENFORCEMENT person – deal with cases of sexual harassment swiftly, sensitively and responsibly.

    As a MINISTER – well, you could stop politicising serious crimes such as rape by calling it a ‘ploy by opposition’ and humiliate the victim. You should also stop interfering with law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. You have all the power to provide a safe environment and infrastructure to your citizens – just DO IT!

    As a JUDGE – be bold, sensitive and impartial – no need to refer to mythology for your decisions.

    As a SINGER – You can turn down offers to sing lines that go ‘Girl I’m touching your booty, coz i’m feeling very very naughty..’ and so on.

    As an ACTOR – You can turn down offers where you are the girl above, whose booty is indeed being touched, and you are supposed to show your ‘love’ towards the hero by being insanely happy that he has touched your booty. You can also refuse to act in movies/serials where gender stereotypes are reinforced – suffering bahus, evil MILS and so on.

    As a WRITER – OMG…the power of the universe rests in your fingertips. Write, write, write about these issues!
    Please add on!!


  14. IHm, I do not know if you have covered it before, but there is an organization called hollaback.org.(http://www.ihollaback.org) to publicize incidents of street harassment. they encourage people to take pictures of harassers and post their experiences online to share with everyone else. they have websites for several cities, Delhi is here- http://delhi.ihollaback.org/. I suggest something on these lines.
    This and pepper spray as an immediate measure.
    education and being more vocal will help. Being more vocal about the whole “be safe, stay away advice” that is. Women or victims don’t have to be “careful” of a culture of rape- the rapists the molesters have to be,
    Maybe we could start an internet forum with places for submitting photographs/ incidents detailing harassment. Names of harassers too.


  15. all readers have paid due consideration to answer your question, in addition to them, a girl should not restrict herself to elicit the truth if that brutal guy is her own brother, doesn’t matter, if it’s you yourself or any other innocent girl, charity begins from home & so the evil born & brought up on home. empower yourself & girls around you, never succumb to these situations neither support if anyone is doing the same. a ‘bechari’ would always remain a ‘bechari’ if she doesn’t know to support herself. this ‘bechari’ tag would lead you nowhere.


  16. Raise your kids right, tech them about harassement and crimes and be open to them telling you. both boys and girls.

    Apart from this i always tell my sons to be aware and be safe – in any neighbourhood, both boys and girls should be aware , there are plenty of creeps around .

    self defense classes generates confidence. not necesarily to trash someone but confidence to face the situation so i’d encourage that.

    apart from these i don’t know what else one could do.


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