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NE women harassed MOST in Delhi, safest in Mumbai

January 24, 2014 19:37 IST

NE women harassed MOST in Delhi, safest in Mumbai

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The national capital has earned the dubious distinction of meting out maximum discrimination and harassment to women from northeast, a survey has said.

Around 60 per cent women from northeast have faced harassment and discrimination in the four metros -- New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. While 23 per cent of the respondents admitted to having been harassed by landlords, an alarming 42 per cent said they were often subjected to verbal abuse. A total of 29 per cent reported harassment and molestation.

Two-thirds of the women were studying, the rest worked as teachers, doctors, engineers, government employees, call centre workers and beauticians. The survey was conducted by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research and sponsored by National Commission for Women.

It covered over 300 respondents including landlords, teachers, lawyers, police and social activists. The study found that migrant women are especially vulnerable to deprivation, hardships, discrimination and abuse, and this is 30 per cent more pronounced in case of women from the northeastern region.

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Image: Students from North East Students Joint Action Committee hold a placard during a protest in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Despite being a preferred destination for women migrants, Delhi has the worst record of meting out discrimination with 81 per cent respondents in the city reporting it, followed by Bangalore at 60 per cent. Mumbai emerged as the safest city although there were reports of extortive behaviour by auto and taxi drivers.

Finding rented accommodation emerged as another problem in Bangalore with 38 per cent of the women facing difficulties, though in Delhi only 19 per cent had this problem.

Overcharging of rent by landlords emerged as a common problem in Kolkata. However, some landlords did view the north easterners in a favourable light as they take care of house, rooms and corridors as their own, unlike others, and they are clean, pleasant and honest.

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Image: Workers of the Bangalore Manipur Student's Association hold a silent rally
Photographs: Jagadeesh/Reuters

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In contrast to poverty-driven migration from other parts of the country, over 33 per cent respondents belonged to families falling in the middle income groups and 60 per cent had travelled in order to find better job opportunities.

The study said the respondents appeared unaware and unsure of the legal system with little or no knowledge of laws like Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, and held a mistrust for the police.

Eighty per cent of the victims chose not to report incidents of harassment to the police, and the small number that did approach the police said that they were not satisfied.

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Image: A student from northeast India attends a protest in New Delhi
Photographs: Tanushree Punwani/Reuters

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Yet significantly, although a majority reported different levels of discrimination, they said they preferred to stay on and 44 per cent said that they would in fact encourage their relatives and friends to migrate to the city, the survey noted.

Director of the NE Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia University Sanjoy Hazarika said this was a reflection of "people voting with their feet" and underlined the difficult challenges of deprivation and insecurity in different parts of the northeastern region.

He said the study should be expanded to more cities across the country to "get a clearer picture of conditions on a wider scale".

The result of the survey was presented in a workshop at the Centre on Thursday and was attended by over 40 young scholars and teachers from DelhiUniversity and Jamia Millia Islamia, NCW representatives and social activists.


Image: An activist of Naga Student Association holds a poster during a demonstration in Calcutta.
Photographs: Reuters

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