A new survey from Our Watch and Plan International has found that almost a third of young Australian women believe it’s not safe to be in public places after dark.
To which we reply: ONLY a third?
A straw poll in the marie claire office found that we tend to avoid public places after dark if we're alone. We schedule jogs during daylight hours, and if we ever do exercise at night, we don’t wear headphones. We tend to get Ubers home rather than walk even short distances through dodgy areas.
And we’re much older than the girls surveyed in this latest report (who were 15-19).
It shouldn’t be this way of course – in a country like Australia we should, as the report is titled, have a “Right To The Night”.
But in fact the survey – which was also conducted overseas – found that even women in Nicaragua feel safer than those in Australia (with only 23 per cent feeling they shouldn’t be outside after dark).
“Women and girls should not have to modify their behaviour to avoid being targets of harassment and abuse,” said Our Watch Chief Executive Officer, Mary Barry. “Perpetrators must learn that aggressive and disrespectful behaviour and harassment against women is unacceptable.”
But perhaps the most disturbing finding from the report is that 17 per cent of respondents (women) believed that the way women dress makes them at least partly responsible for unwanted attention or harassment.
“The data tells us girls think the responsibility for violence or sexual harassment towards women and girls rests with them and not the perpetrators of the crimes. It’s disheartening that so many girls think they’re better off staying at home than doing things as simple as catching public transport on their own,” said Plan International Australia Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Susanne Legena.
The irony, of course, is that our fears are most probably misplaced – that the danger is not on the street, but at home, where one woman dies every week at their hands of their partner.
And the solution? Plan and Our Watch believe the answer lies with men – and teaching them to respect women - rather than telling women to keep safe.
Until then, we’ll stick to jogging during daylight hours.