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Tackling Sexual Harassment: Short and Long Run Experimental Evidence from India

Gender and Equity

Sexual harassment imposes substantial economic costs on the victims yet, there is limited evidence on how to effectively deter it. I show that men can be successfully engaged to reduce sexual harassment using an RCT targeting sexual harassment awareness training at men and women separately in colleges in New Delhi. I show that the training with men reduces overall sexual harassment by 0.06 sd with a 100% decrease in extreme forms of harassment reported by women in their peer groups. The training also reduces romantic relationships between men and women in the short to medium run. I find that this is driven by women’s choices, using a lab-in-the-field experiment in which women prefer to cooperate with women rather than men on an experimental task. Using a signaling framework, I show that this is consistent with some men undertaking “good” behaviours even though they would prefer to harass women, to avoid disapproval from their peers. Consistent with this, men’s perception of peer disapproval against sexual harassment increased without a detectable change in their intrinsic attitudes towards it. Long-run surveys over one to two years after the intervention indicate a decline in overall sexual harassment albeit weakly and a persistent and stronger decline in opposite sex relationships. I cannot reject a null effect on sexual harassment and opposite sex relationships of a similar intervention that was delivered exclusively to women in a separate college.

wp2053.pdf (3.41 MB)
Karmini Sharma
Publication Date
December, 2022