Sydney, Oct 11 (IANS) Many young women and girls in Delhi, Kampala, Lima Madrid and Sydney feel unsafe due to increasing incidents of abuse and harassment, a global study has found, that also pointed at society’s indifference and inaction which disempowers the survivor.
“Constant harassment and abuse is frightening and draining, and leaves young women feeling completely disempowered,” said Susanne Legena, chief executive of Plan International Australia in a statement on Thursday.
In its latest findings the humanitarian group said indifference and inaction leads many girls and young women to blame themselves for abuse and harassment, Xinhua news agency reported.
The report based on more than 21,000 testimonials of girls and young women in cities of India, Australia, Peru, Spain and Uganda found that in all five places, “boys and men grope, chase, stalk, leer at, verbally insult, and flash girls and young women.”
The behaviour also seemed to be “condoned by society with authorities rarely taking action, and bystanders usually doing just that — standing by. This forces girls to adjust their behaviour to protect themselves,” said the group.
Spots that were reported unsafe by the study’s respondents included Sydney’s Central Station area and trains.
One 28-year-old woman said she left the city after five years of studying in it because of the “sexual harassment (catcalling, swears, pervert stares) almost everywhere I go.”
The findings showed that the harassment of girls and young women transcended geography, said Nicole Kalms, director of Monash University’s space gender communication lab.
“Across five cities, the safety concerns of these young women are frighteningly similar, with the prevalence of sexual harassment in particular standing out,” she said.
The group highlighted women’s key recommendations to help make cities safer, such as improving female involvement in urban design and pushing for laws and policies that criminalise all forms of gender-based violence.