n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Asian passengers' safety study : the problem of sexual molestation of women on trains and buses in Chennai, India

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Sexual molestation on public transport systems is prevalent in many parts of the world. A sizeable number of the commuting population in India who use public transport are students. The present study is a part of larger on-going research in other Asian countries. Japanese and Indonesian studies have revealed that a majority of the victims of sexual molestation on public transport have been women. Therefore, the present research has been conducted with an Indian sample of N=655 female students from a women's only colleges in the city of Chennai, India. The study draws its data from a questionnaire and from recent media reports. The paper illuminates the incidence of sexual molestation in public transport in an Indian metropolis with a focus on communication about the event and victim blaming. The results reveal that slightly over half of the participants have been victimised at least once and out of them fifty percent of the victims have been repeatedly victimised. Most of the victims report they were angry and irritated, however very few report that they were ashamed. Also, a significant number of participants, victims and non-victims, felt that the reason for this, was that the woman was wearing revealing clothes and therefore to be blamed. Although a majority of the participants believe it is important to communicate about the problem, they agree that it is not easy to report sexual molestation to the police. Victim blaming and lack of appropriate victim support systems play a significant role in the reluctance to communicate about such victimisations.

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