Street harassment is one of those things that, for some reason, a lot of people refuse to believe exist. I can’t wrap my head around it, just like I can’t wrap my head around why people would harass someone on the street minding their business in the first place, but here we are.
Plan International Australia and Monash University have released the results of a report that looks at the amount of street harassment people experience, as well as the way that authorities deal with reports. The report focussed on five cities: Delhi, Kampala, Lima, Madrid and Sydney.
They used crowdmapping technology to create an interactive map that women and girls could anonymously use to report street harassment and where it happened.
Across those five cities, 14,500 individual spots were marked.
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You can find the Sydney map here, but as a heads up, the descriptions of the harassment that people faced are just horrible. I spent a few minutes clicking through and found reports of men following women while hissing “run faster”, a woman being pushed down a set of stairs after refusing to give a stranger her number, and a lot of full on sexual assaults.
Things get even more grim when you realise how many of the pinned incidents mention how witnesses and authorities did nothing to help. When you crunch the numbers, of the 14,500 incidents recorded, only 1,270 were reported to authorities. Out of all the incidents taken to the authorities, 852 (67%) of the reports were not acted upon.
The CEO of Plan International, Susanne Legena, says that those numbers are nowhere near good enough.
“For too long women and girls everywhere have just endured harassment as a normal part of their daily lives. They internalise it and over time, it begins to have a serious impact on their well-being. Girls and young women in our research told us loud and clear that when authorities fail to respond thoughtfully, sympathetically and supportively, it can be extremely damaging and harrowing for them.
“Our message is that every single report needs to be taken seriously and the system needs to change to ensure there’s a clear process for reporting. Unless and until this happens, the cycle of underreporting, internalisation and social acceptance of street harassment will continue.”
I hate that I have to say ‘stay safe’ when I’m talking about street harassment. I shouldn’t have to hope that you get to go about your day without creeps making you uncomfortable, or that you’ll get to sigh in relief when you make it wherever you’re going without any incident. But there you go, this is the world we live in.
So stay safe out there.
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