Attitudes Toward Sexual Harassment of Women in India


  • This article is based on the M. Phil. dissertation of Shobha A. Menon, supervised by Suresh Kanekar at the University of Bombay.

Department of Applied Psychology, University of Bombay, Vidyanagari, Bombay 400 098, India.


A hypothetical incident of sexual harassment at the workplace was presented to 720 undergraduate students of the University of Bombay who attributed blame to the female victim of a superordinate male harasser and rated the appropriateness of her response to the harassment. The experiment had a 2 (Subject's Sex) × 3 (Victim's Marital Status: unmarried, married, or divorced) × 2 (Type of Harassment: verbal vs. physical) × 4 (Victim's Response: ignoring, complaining, scolding, or slapping) between-subjects factorial design with 15 subjects per cell. Male subjects blamed the victim of harassment more than female subjects, the unmarried and married victims were blamed more than the divorced victim, and the ignoring victim was blamed more than the complaining, scolding, and slapping victims. Perceived appropriateness of victim's response was higher with the divorced victim as compared to the unmarried and married victims, with physical harassment as compared to verbal harassment, and with the complaining, scolding, and slapping victims as compared to the ignoring victim. A three-way interaction on perceived appropriateness suggested that female subjects, as compared to male subjects, were more in favor of strong self-assertive action against harassment, but relatively less so in the case of the unmarried victim.