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Speak up in the moment!

During the Amplify Team’s research trip we identified that sexual harassment in public transportation is the most common threat to women and girls in Delhi and Kathmandu.

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
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Sexual Harasment in Public Transportation is a common problem: 

Based on multiple interviews with women and girls in India and Nepal sexual harassment in public transportation and to a lesser extent in crowded public areas is one of the main issues that threatens women's and girls' safety.

We talked to Sinda, a bachelor student of management, Anita, an MBA student and their peers at the  Bhaktapur Youth Group in Nepal. They explained that even after conducting their own program on raising awareness about sexual harasment nothing changed much. Check out the third video in the gallery where they discuss this issue and share ideas on how to solve it.

This lively confident and outspoken group also shared stories when they have been the object of harrassment and  have stood up, defended themselves and called attention to the problem in the moment.

While they shared their ideas on how to solve this issue they said that improving public lighting and having conductors of buses enforce laws and support them would be helpful – this answer was similar to the response we got from other women we talked to during the research trip . They also shared tips like using a safety pin to poke agressors and defend themselves.
The women in the Bhaktapur Youth Group,however, differ from other women we interviewed on the way they react to harasment. Anita pushed her agressor, and Sinda's Aunt shamed him publicly. These girls stoop-up for themselves in the moment. Being part of this group, that has provided them with a safe space to have conversations about any topic and where they have gained skills and learned about sexual health has empowered them to respond differently than other women we talked to in Nepal. We ussually heard women saying they kept quite or silently used the safety pin to poke the agressor without calling attention to the harasment publicly.

This conversation brings up the following main insights:

1) People in positions of power, such as bus-conductors, are not helping enforce laws like "only women seating" and regulate behaviour that could prevent women from being harassed.
2) Crowds and darkness allow for perpetrators to hide. This is easily preventable: 
How might we go about hacking - creating interventions in – public transportation to prevent inappropriate touching and harassment?

3) In a comment on denfense mechanisms, Rachael Barrett explains the difference between  primary and secondary types of response and prevention to gender based violence. Primary response/prevention are the easiest solutions – e.g. locks – secondary prevention involves bigger and more difficult changes such as mind-set change. 

The safety pin seems to be  a primary response of defense that is in need of a secondary prevention measure to address a wider behavioural problem. How might we go beyond the defense mechanism of the safety pin and adress the issue of harasment outloud and publicly?

4) Safe spaces that allow girls and women to talk openly and build a support network empower women and girls to defend and speak out when confronted with harasment

This post is part of a series of interviews with the Bhaktapur Youth Group check the other posts here:

1 comment

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Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Re #3: I understand the different between primary response/prevention and secondary prevention (and have noted and written about it, too), but what confuses me here is the terminology itself—what makes one "primary" and the other "secondary"? Is it the difference between short- and long-term? I'm not sure...