Pin the creep and raise awareness of sexual harassment

SafeCity, New Delhi, India

SDG 3: Good health and well-beingSDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 16: Peace justice and strong institutionsSDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
Safecity is a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. The aim is to make data available and useful for individuals, local communities, and local administration to identify factors and behaviours that lead to violence, and work on efficient strategies for solutions. Safecity makes cities safer by promoting equal access to public spaces for everyone, especially women, through the use of crowdsourced data and technology.

Many public spaces are occupied by men in India. It is where men loiter and spend time with their friends. Women and girls are rarely seen doing the same. However, we expect a city to be able to provide spaces for all its citizens. A good city has transportation that is safe, clean, affordable, easily available, and provides multiple and flexible options. New Delhi for example, has a great metro system, but it often lacks“the last mile connectivity”which makes women vulnerable to attacks. Safecity believes that“if you want an inclusive city that is safe for women and girls, their needs need to be taken into account. If it’s inclusive for young girls, it’s inclusive for everyone.

”UN Women state that 1 in 3 women face some kind of sexual assault
at least once in their lifetime. Campaigns, such as #metoo, has brought attention to that the problem with sexual harassment might even be much greater than that. In India, a rape occurs approximately every 20 minutes. Yet, most women and girls do not talk about this type abuse due to cultural and social conventions, for example, victim blaming, police fear, and tedious formal procedures. As a consequence, data cannot be gathered, and perpetrators goes unpunished. Breaking the silence and documenting harassment and abuse in public spaces, will help to find the most effective solutions at a neighbourhood level.

Good practices & solutions

On the Safecity website women and witnesses can report cases of sexual harassments and abuse occurring both in private and public spheres. When women are encouraged to report and to break the silence, the organisations can map what has happened where. This information is used to improve interventions and take action against sexual violence. Areas that have emerged as high-risk for women in New Dehli are, for example, stations, station bridges or viaducts, bus stops, along the railway, and markets. What has been identified to decrease sexual harassment in public places are a combination of good lightning, police presence, and a built environment which design is unique in comparison to adjecent areas.

Outcome & opportunities

When women read other people’s stories, it helps them understand what sexual violence is and that it should not be accepted. They also learn about the different types and levels of violence. Nonverbal and verbal harassment are often normalised culturally, which makes women ignore it or blame themselves. The increased solidarity between women creates an immense difference on a social and cultural level. When they hear each other’s stories, they understand that they are not alone.

Lessons learned & recommendations

A city is a living, breathing thing. When the population is changing, the city cannot remain static. City planning need to be more open to listen to people’ issues, needs, demands, and make adjustments. A good city is balanced, where there is space for people for live, work and play in equal measures. A good city is inclusive, meaning for example providing good footpaths and cheap public transportation. Far too many cities lack good footpaths, making it hard to push baby strollers or wheelchairs. A good city has places for everyone to play, not just fields to play football or cricket, that mainly attract boys. A good city has places for women to loiter, to sit down without being stared at or being questioned why they are in a public space.

Safecity believes that it is possible to generalise their methods, because they never go into a neighbourhood with a preconceived notion about the solution. They first examine reported data from the community in focus. Since they have worked across India, Nepal, Cameroon and Kenya the characteristics of the reports differs a lot. For example, in Kenya, incest is often reported, while there is much less public harassment. In Nepal, reports show non-perpetrated violence and child sex abuse, however authorities began to solve the issue of transportation because it is very inadequate to women. This shows the extreme importance of data and to locally adapt working methods to ensure women and girls feel safe.

Related SDG targets
  • 3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks
  • 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • 5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 16.b Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © SafeCity

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Project: Urban Girls Movement