A study conducted by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in nine villages of Punjab’s Fatehgarh Sahib district has revealed that more than 48% girls faced eve-teasing in the past one year.
Eight-nine women each, aged 14-26, from these villages were roped in for the study by the experts of PGIMER’s School of Public Health. They were given questions on harassment, its nature, time, intensity and extent.
“The study emerged from the community concern about eve-teasing and its impact on the mental health of young women in rural Punjab. While 48.3% girls were victims of eve-teasing (sexual harassment) in the last one year, 37 said that they had faced the same in the past. Over 30 reported this as an ongoing problem,” the study says.
In more than 50% cases, the perpetrators are known to the victims, nearly half of them were older than the girls and two-third were from the general category or upper castes,” the study states.
While 61% of the victims reported getting angry, 47% said they felt ashamed and one-third felt worried.
Restrictions imposed on girls due to harassment
“Eve teasing is just one of many threats to women in rural Punjab. Girls described situations where their parents restricted them to home to protect them from eve-teasing or improper relations with boys or men. As a result, women described being relegated to the domestic sphere at the expense of school, work and social activities,” the study says.
Sexual harassment in public places is a major problem that affects the day-to-day lives of women. Many of them either choose or are compelled by their families to limit their time in public, including opportunities for education, livelihoods, political role and social participation, it says. It also leads to depression and suicidal behavior, mentions the study.
This may eventually take the form of more serious sexual assault and efforts should be made to reduce the prevalence, it adds.