women's safety

Harassment fears: Why Delhi women pick lower-ranked colleges than ones they’re eligible for

These choices ultimately limit women’s economic mobility.

Sexual harassment on the streets costs women in many ways. A study has found that it compels women in Delhi, for one, to compromise on the quality of college they choose, makes travel more expensive and ultimately affects their economic mobility. Male students, of course, are far less driven by safety concerns.

For her 2017 paper, Safety First: Perceived Risk of Street Harassment and Educational Choices of Women, Brown University PhD scholar Girija Borker studied the choices made by 4,000 students attending Delhi University colleges. Her paper explores how women applicants weighed the quality of the college against the perceived safety of the route to that college and chose to trade quality for safety.

The national capital is widely considered to be an unsafe city for women. A survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and released in October found that Delhi is considered the world’s worst megacity out of 19 megacities surveyed because of the sexual violence women face.

Constrained choices

Quantifying both quality of the institution and safety, Borker found that “women are willing to attend a college that is 13.04 percentage points lower in quality” than the institution they are eligible for if they feel the journey will be safer by a single unit. “This is equivalent to choosing a college that is 8.5 ranks lower,” wrote Borker. “Men on the other hand are willing to attend a college that is only 1.37 percentage points (or 0.9 ranks) lower in quality for an additional SD [standard deviation or, for the study, a single unit] of safety.”

Women are willing to travel longer and spend more too with regard to safety, according to the study. They are willing to spend Rs 20,000 more per year for one unit of safety while men will spend just Rs 1,200 more. “The difference of Rs 18,000 is…almost double the average annual tuition in [Delhi University],” Borker pointed out. And where women are willing to travel as much as 40 minutes more for a safer journey, men will increase their travel time by just four minutes for the same amount of safety. Women feel most insecure in buses.

“Street harassment imposes an external constraint on women’s behaviour that could potentially lead to sub-optimal choices,” writes Borker. “Choosing a worse ranked college is likely to have long-term consequences since college quality affects a student’s academic training…,network of peers…,access to labour opportunities, and lifetime earnings. In fact, such misallocation of students to colleges, where high achieving females sort to low quality colleges, may not only affect women’s long-term outcomes but could also have important aggregate productivity effects.”

Quantifying safety

Four thousand students from eight Delhi colleges participated in a detailed survey conducted by Borker in spring, 2016. The eight included two women’s colleges and one evening college. From these 4,000, Borker worked with a sample of 2,695 students (1,757 female) who live in Delhi with their parents and travel to college every day. Another 887 students from 32 colleges took shorter surveys and data from 669 of them was used for analysis.

For the study, both the quality of the college and safety were quantified. Borker used the minimum marks required for admission to a college, or cut-off as it is called, as a marker of its quality – higher the cut-off, better the quality – and ranked colleges accordingly. For every student included in the survey, their “choice set” – the set of colleges they had the marks for – was considered and ranked.

Quantifying the relative safety of travel routes was more complicated. To chart actual routes taken and potential routes and modes of transport – private car, public transport and walking – Borker used Google Maps. To assign a “safety score” to each travel route, she used data from two mobile applications – SafetiPin and Safecity.

SafetiPin furnishes data gathered through safety audits of Delhi’s localities. The audits involve scoring an area out of three on each of nine parameters – availability of light, openness (whether you can see ahead and the area around), visibility (whether there are windows and street vendors), presence of others, of security guards or the police, availability of a path to walk or run on, availability of public transport, whether all genders can be seen in the area and general feeling. Borker used data from 26,500 audits conducted between November 2013 to January 2016.

SafeCity includes testimonies from those who have been harassed in public spaces, and the mode of transport is mentioned. Borker used 5,500 such crowd-sourced reports.

The application data was used to score each route for safety and then those scores were used to compute a “unit of safety” for every “choice set”. To put that unit into perspective, Borker uses district-level data on rape from the National Crime Records Bureau. The paper says each unit of travel safety while walking “is equivalent to a 3.1 percent decrease in the rapes reported annually”.

Buses unsafe

The Delhi Metro, predictably, is considered the safest mode of travel by women students although about 16% of the harassment incidents were on the metro. 86% of the women who use it travel in the women’s compartment.

Unsurprisingly, buses are considered the least secure and according to the study, 40% of the harassment incidents “mention…a bus or the people in it”. Still, 38% students – 33% of them women – cover some portion of the distance to college by public or private buses but men are more likely to use them than women.

A large number, 68%, walk for some distance. But here too, more men (71%) walk than women (66%).

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.


So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.