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Men who carry out street harassment

I was curious to understand what triggers people to carry out street harassment of women. I requested friends in India to ask men who have low paid jobs on a 'man to man' note as to why they do it. Key insights: Men carry out street harassment when women are alone, mainly to get cheap thrills with their peers Men refrain from harassing women if they are accompanied by a man, or in the presence of cops

Photo of Manjul Rathee
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Respondent 1: Manoj, from Nepal, 19 years old

Do you or someone you know do street harassment on the street?
Yes he and his friends used to

Why do they harass women on the street?
Acceptance in peer group, building hierarchy

Where do they harass women on the street?
Streets where probability of near ones seeing them is less

When do they think they can?
Lone woman

Is there anything that stops them?
If the woman is not alone
 

Respondent 2: Bus Conductor, Bihar 28 years old

Do you or someone you know do street harassment on the street?
Yes, him and friends

Why do they harass women on the street?
Cheap thrills (not interested in talking to the woman)

Where do they harass women on the street?
In their hood, where people can back them up if needed

When do they think they can?
During the day, lone woman, when they are with friends, drinking liquor

Is there anything that stops them?
Cops, men accompanying a woman
 

Respondent 3: Handyman, Bihar 23 years old

Do you or someone you know do street harassment on the street?
Yes, him and friends

Why do they harass women on the street?
Cheap thrills (not interested in talking to the woman), thing they do with friends, Women who fit their low economic status (avoid rich girls as they can get them into trouble)

Where do they harass women on the street?
In their hood, paan shops

When do they think they can?
Lone woman, when they are with friends – get a kick when a woman reacts (good or bad reaction doesn’t matter)

Is there anything that stops them?
Cops, men accompanying women

11 comments

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Photo of Nicki White

Fabulous! Sad (and pathetic and so many other things) that what is "cheap thrills" for them impacts so negatively on a woman's life. I guess the question then is why does scaring, harassing and intimidating a female improve their social status? Why is it seen as such a "positive" among their peers to treat people so awfully? How do we change this deep-rooted cultural issue?

Photo of Manjul Rathee

I was just contemplating asking my friends to run the interviews with more men - and conclude by asking 'if the men know how women feel when they harass them'? And if they do, then what stops them from caring (not related to them etc.)?

Photo of Jamie Beck Alexander

Manjul this is awesome! What rare insights into the motivations of men who carry out street harassment. It makes me wonder how we can address the underlying motivations of street harassment, which seem in these cases to be 1) to get a reaction from a woman, and 2) for cheap thrills/acceptance in a peer group. I would have thought that economic opportunity might increase mens sense of self worth and perhaps decrease the motivation to be more accepted by their peers via harassment. But I see that one of your respondents is a bus conductor, so that must not be the only factor. Maybe somehow helping these men to see the positive role they can play in their communities/increased responsibility may help make it more shameful to harass women in the street rather than a 'cheap thrill.' Any ideas?

Photo of Meena Kadri

Fascinating indeed – and great to have you back on another challenge, Manjul. I'm especially digging that you enlisted men to ask other men – nice work. As Jamie mentions... this raises important design opportunities for everyone here. I like the notion of exploring how we might nurture a culture shift where treating women with respect would receive peer validation. I wonder what that might look like? Given it's about behaviour change, I wonder if we could borrow some tips from the corporate world: http://www.artefactgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Behavior-Change-Strategy-Cards-with-Dividers-Feb-2014.pdf Looking forward to seeing what the great conversation you've started here will trigger for our upcoming Ideas phase...

Photo of Meena Kadri

Thought you & others here might also want to take a look at this: http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/talk-to-me-getting-strangers-to-talk-to-women-on-a-personal-level Makes me wonder whether there might be a curated conversation format which builds on this which helps men share the kind of feedback you've collected – in some way that is constructively confronting?

Photo of Manjul Rathee

Hi Jamie,

Your point of 'increased responsibility' is an interesting one - as most of the respondents explained how they harass women at Paan shops // in their hood... in India there are always plenty of 'onlookers', and to carry out street harassment you need TIME and OPPORTUNITY. I think by increasing individual responsibility - we can reverse both. A question that arises now is increasing responsibility by...?

Photo of Manjul Rathee

Hi Meena,

Thanks for sharing the behaviour change cards and the conversations post - both are very interesting. The conversations post could work well as a empathy builder, it would be interesting to see if it can break through barriers that urban living can create - busy everyday routines, a sense of wariness (especially towards men who are strangers).

The behaviour change cards seem very useful - I will share them with my male friends and family in India, who can possibly facilitate a brief session with some of the respondents in this post.

Photo of luisa covaria

Manjul,
This is such an incredible interview offering a point of view into the issue. We are rarely able to hear such a frank approach. During the Amplify's research trip in Delhi,our colleague Marika experienced an uncomfortable episode:
http://openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/understanding-the-power-of-shame
Your post offers a different point of view into understanding "the cheap thrill" . The fact that some men can talk openly about it offers an entry point and opportunity area to address this issue further.
Manjul, it seems like you live in GB, do men get away with the "cheap thrill" there? How do you think this conversation started by your friend could be taken further?

Photo of Manjul Rathee

Hi Luisa,

Thanks for sharing the post - this is so common in India, raising an alarm or quietly walking away are the only 2 options for women - most would choose the latter (I think).

I grew up in India, and have experienced this first hand, alongwith reading newspapers where atleast 4 pages are full of stories about things that have happened to women.

Having spent over a decade in London, I can say that there are certain neighbourhoods where someone might 'evetease'... overall, this is not common. There are incidents that happen once in a while, but the one attempting to harass is probably always wary of others and needless to say the Law. This makes a massive difference.

I am flying to India in April, so will connect with my friends who carried out the interviews, I am curious to also see what the OpenIdeo community thinks we can do to dig deeper into the psyche of the respondents.

Photo of Enrico Sinatra

brava!!!

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Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!