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Many countries have taken action in recent times to address harassment in the work place and violence in the home, but little attention has been paid to sexual harassment in public places, specifically during women’s journey to work and school. In developing countries, many more women are seeking education and employment than previously, which has increased the opportunity for sexual harassment in public places. In India, the study location, this harassment is known as “eve teasing”. Eve teasing includes cat calling, lewd remarks, and inappropriate sexual contact such as rubbing and fondling. Tolerance of such incidents could lead to more severe forms of abuse and encourage more individuals to participate. Necessary as laws are, they cannot bring about immediate changes in widespread public behaviors, particularly those, such as eve teasing, that are deeply rooted in the culture of a country. To date there is no systematic research on sexual harassment in public places to assist public authorities and town planners with the development of security measures, especially for college-going women in cities and towns in India. Rapid assessment methodology has been used increasingly, especially in the field of public health, to assist decision-making about appropriate interventions for social problems by examining issues within social and cultural contexts in space and time. This paper provides a case study of rapid assessment of so-called “eve teasing” of female college students in Chennai, India. Three methods were employed in this rapid assessment of the problem— focus group discussions with college students, interviews with police officers from stations nearby the campuses and safety audits of the campus surroundings. This small exploratory study of eve teasing in India succeeded in promoting understanding of the problem and in providing many suggestions for reducing it. These latter included an extensive inventory of precautions for students, particularly female students to take in order to protect themselves from eve teasing, and a list of preventive suggestions for other stakeholders—the police, local municipalities, transport agencies and the colleges themselves. The study has wider implications for the study of routine precautions, for crime in public space and for the use of rapid assessment techniques in Crime Science.


This article was originally published in Crime Science, available at DOI 10.1186/s40163-016-0054-9

© 2016 Natarajan. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.



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