Women are visible on the city streets, in public transport and markets, but an overwhelming 87% believe that some public spaces are inaccessible to them , according to a study conducted in the past few weeks.
The issue of safety in public spaces emerged as a key decisive element in people, especially women, choosing a particular space or conversely not choosing any.
The findings came from the study conducted as part of the ongoing Mumbai Lab, curated by the travelling urban think tank BMW Guggenheim Lab, by the city's independent research collective Partners in Urban Knowledge, Action and Research (Pukar). The gender break-down of respondents: 57% men and 43% women, between 18 and 60 years of age.
Public spaces such as cinema theatres, sea shore, neighbourhood parks and religious places emerged as top favourites that Mumbaiites preferred to use. Safety ranked as the topmost criteria among women and men in choosing such a space for themselves or their families.
City resident cited safety, harassment, social perceptions and presence of men - in that order - as reasons for not accessing public spaces.
Safety and harassment accounted for 38% of the reasons, and social perceptions and presence of men accounted for an additional 29%.
The study, covering 800 respondents in 10 locations, aimed to understand how lack of space in Mumbai creates new definitions of privacy and how privacy relates to personal and public spaces.
"This is a mega city, a global city, yet women don't think it is safe to walk to the nearest tea stall. They feel unsafe, threatened by harassment and the presence of men even in public spaces such as cinema theatres and the sea shore," said Dr Anita Patil Deshmukh, executive director of Pukar.