Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Indian women hold candles and placards during a protest against two recently reported rape cases, in Ahmadabad, India, April 16, 2018. The outrage was triggered by the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir and the abduction and rape of a teenage girl in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state.
Ajit Solanki/AP
Girls & Women

1 in 3 Girls in India Fears Being Sexually Assaulted in Public

Sexual harassment and assault is such a pervasive problem in India that 1 in 3 adolescent girls not only fears being inappropriately touched or harassed in public, but expects it, according to a new study.

In its WINGS 2018: World of India’s Girls report, international children’s rights organization Save the Children found a widespread fear of sexual harassment and rape among teenage girls, particularly on public transport and in public spaces.

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

Those fears are not unfounded.

A string of high-profile rape cases led thousands of people across India to take to the streets in protest against sexual violence in April. And despite the numerous calls for stronger rape laws and better law enforcement, new, horrific incidents continue to make headlines, with few victims seeing justice served.

After the violent gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi led to mass protests in 2012, India amended its rape laws to better protect girls and women. Yet sexual violence remains a major problem in the country. Nearly 39,000 rapes were reported in India in 2016, according to government data

However, stubborn attitudes and persistent stigma surrounding sexual violence and rape have likely discouraged many victims from filing reports, so the true number of victims is probably substantially higher.

Read more: 12 Photos That Show How People Won’t Stop Protesting India Rapes Until Justice Is Served

These cultural norms and attitudes toward sexual violence have also likely contributed to adolescent girls’ fears of being harassed and assaulted. About 40% of the girls Save the Children surveyed believed they would be shamed, blamed, or dismissed if they attempted to file complaints of sexual violence to the police. That means girls aren’t just afraid of being attacked, they’re also afraid that if they are, their attackers will never be brought to justice.

“These findings reveal the danger and fear faced by millions of Indian girls every day when they go outside their homes, and the harmful impact this can have on their self-confidence and ability to move around freely,” Bidisha Pillai, CEO of Save the Children India, said in a statement. “This harmful phenomenon is also putting girls’ futures at risk, encouraging early marriage and making it more difficult to get an education, pursue meaningful employment and engage with the world.”

Read more: Indian Police Arrest a Man Accused of Gang Raping and Burning a Teenage Girl Alive

Global Citizen campaigns against in support of gender equality and women’s rights. You can take action here to urge governments to #LeveltheLaw by strengthening their sexual violence and rape laws.