Business Standard

Fewer women feel safe than before: Safety Index


The sense of safety among women aged 15 years and above in India has seen a decline, according to the Georgetown Institute 2023 Women, Peace and Security Index.

In 2017, 65.5 per cent of Indian women reported feeling safe, but this figure dropped to 58 per cent in 2023.

The index gauges the safety perception of women walking alone at night in the city or in the area where they live.

Comparativ­ely, other countries fare better in this aspect: 91 per cent of women in China feel safe, while in the United Kingdom and the United States, the figures are 74 per cent and 61 per cent, respective­ly. South Africa lags behind with only 27 per cent of women feeling safe (chart 1).

Globally, the index reveals that “more than one in eight women” have experience­d physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. Rates vary from 2 per cent in Switzerlan­d and Singapore to 45 per cent in Iraq. In India, the figure stands at 18 per cent.

Despite these concerning statistics, women’s access to justice remains low in India, as evidenced by the index’s ranking on the scale of one to four. This scale assesses “the extent to which women are able to bring cases to court, seek fair trials, and obtain legal redress when their rights are violated”.

India’s score is 2.4. For the US, it is 3.5, followed by South Africa and the UK at 3.3 each. Russia has the lowest score at 1.6 (chart 2).

In 2022, India recorded an average of 1,001 cases of crimes against women daily, up from 980 in 2021.

However, the conviction rate for such crimes dropped to 23.3 per cent in 2022, down from 25.2 per cent the previous year, shows data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Cases with pending judgments also declined from 95.2 per cent in 2021 to 92.7 per cent in 2022. The rate was higher in 2020 at 95.6 per cent (chart 3).

In 2022, there were 17,809 recorded cases of sexual harassment. Among these, 523 occurred in shelter homes for women and children, 422 in the public transport system, and 419 at workplaces or office premises.

Although police patrols seemingly have little impact on overall street harassment, a paper titled Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces and Police Patrols: Experiment­al Evidence from Urban India suggests that visible policing patrols did lead to a 27 per cent reduction in severe forms of harassment — such as forceful touching and intimidati­on. Additional­ly, it decreased the likelihood of women leaving areas considered hotspots due to sexual harassment.

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