Safety of women is one of the biggest concerns in India. Every single day there are hundreds or probably thousands of reports of women getting harassed, and there are likely many more that are not even reported.

Many women are simply not aware of their rights or don’t have access to things that may help them escape the harassment or act against the harasser. This is precisely where you, another citizen of India, can come in and perform your duty of helping a woman in need, a woman getting harassed.

Here’s what you need to know about going about helping a woman in such cases.

Be aware of your surroundings

A large number of women experience street harassment, although we usually don’t come across such cases daily. So the first thing to do is simply to be aware of your surroundings and look out for any obvious signs of harassment.

Simply being alert and aware, too, can go a long way in helping you recognize such unwelcome acts and help possible victims of harassment.

Confronting the harasser directly may not be a good idea

We know that we as men tend to simply jump in and confront the harasser when we come across such a situation, but it may not turn out to be the best thing to do. You may not be knowing what’s exactly up with the woman being followed and the person that’s apparently trying to harass her.

Similarly, the harasser may be having some kind of weapon with him, so it can get dangerous to confront him directly.

Approach the woman instead

So instead of jumping right in and reacting aggressively to the harasser, you can instead approach the woman first who’s being followed or harassed. You can either ask her directly if the harassment is obvious or take an indirect route by asking her for directions or the time.

By doing so, you allow the woman to share whether or not she needs help, and how she would like you to help. Also, striking up a normal conversation with the woman may make the harasser retreat – as he would know the woman can get support quickly if he tries to do something harmful – without directly having to confront him.

Asking others for help

If there’s more than one person trying to harass or follow a woman, or even if it’s just one person but looks like he belongs to a gang or something, you may want to ask others to intervene as well. It can be a police officer, a bus conductor, a teacher, or someone with some authority. And if you don’t find someone like that, just anyone who’s willing to help can be approached.

Helping someone who just experienced harassment

If, for some reason, you weren’t able to help when the woman was being harassed, such as being called a derogatory name or threatened, you can still help her after the incident. She may want you to accompany her to the police station to file a complaint or drop her off at her home as she may be feeling unsafe to travel alone.