Piyali Sur


This article uses qualitative methodology to explore women’s fear of crime in intimate relations, an area until now uncharted. The rich scholarship on fear of crime has exclusively dealt with fear of crime on the streets, ignoring the threat of crime within private spaces. The study conducted in Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, India, demonstrates that for women there is a sexualization of risk whereby women participants express their overwhelming fear of sexual harm in public spaces and deny any kind of fear of crime in private spaces. The article argues that women recast the meanings of danger and risk in their public and private lives when they express their fear of crime in intimate relations. I argue that the acknowledgement and naming of the harm women encounter in intimate relations make women reconstruct the notions and perceptions of risk in intimate relations as they realize that their intimates are dangerous and the life with them is risky. Other women participants experiencing harm in intimate relations do not define them as serious, as they are affected by dominant stereotypes. Treating the harm as ‘not serious’ makes them deny their fears in the private realm.

Author Biography

Piyali Sur is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Banipur Women’s College, West Bengal, and is a visiting lecturer at Jadavpur University. She completed her Ph.D. research on fear of crime among women. She is currently researching alternative femininities, focusing on young women’s socialization in night clubs and their sense of empowerment in these spaces.