Why Young Sydney Women Feel Unsafe In The City

Results of study reveal harassment so widespread it’s ‘normal’

The harassment and abuse of girls and young women in Sydney is so common that victims believe it is normal, a new report suggests.

And three-quarters of locations marked in Sydney were described by girls and women under 30 as unsafe.

The investigation by child rights organisation Plan International has been released to coincide with the United Nations International Day Of The Girl.

The report covered five international cities and has recommended that women and girls be involved in designing cities to help combat the issue.

The other cities included Delhi in India, Lima in Peru, Kampala in Uganda and Madrid in Spain.

In Sydney, the study had women use an online mapping tool, called “Free to Be”, to drop pins on areas throughout the city to track places where they feel safe or unsafe.

Of the 2083 places tagged, 75 per cent were marked by the women as unsafe.

The results found 75 percent of places tagged as unsafe (Image supplied, Plan International)
The results found 75 percent of places tagged as unsafe
(Image supplied, Plan International)
The Sydney app in use. (Image supplied, Plan International)
The Sydney app in use.
(Image supplied, Plan International)

The results provide a glimpse into the impact of harassment and abuse on the lives of girls and women with most having to change their behaviour to protect themselves, according to Plan International Australia chief executive Susanne Legena.

"Constant harassment and abuse is frightening and draining and leaves young women feeling completely disempowered," she said in a statement on Thursday.

"The indifference and inaction leads many girls and young women to blame themselves for abuse and harassment.

"What's more, by forcing girls and women to constantly adjust their behaviour to stay safe, society is denying them the benefits and opportunities of city life."

Bad pins were mostly identified with sexual harassment, with and without physical contact was the main issue identified in connection with bad pins. Over two-thirds of the comments on bad pins included sexual harassment of some kind and 63% of all the pins identified gender-based discrimination as a factor.

Discrimination based on ethnicity was identified in 10% of the pins (the highest of all the cities), usually alongside gender discrimination.

On the street was the most likely location for bad pins, often alongside to/from work or school and public transport. Strong negative clusters tended to form around train stations and bus interchanges.

Safe places were characterised by being busy, often with working people. This was closely followed by the place having a good ‘community environment’ or being well known to the participant.

The data showed that victims felt there was little point in reporting harassment because authorities and bystanders rarely took action to help them.

With AAP

(Featured Image: Getty)