We like to think of Sydney as a welcoming city, a positive place that celebrates diversity and inclusion. A city that makes it easy to live, work, study and play. Yet for a lot of girls and young women who call Sydney home, that’s just not the reality.
Plan International Australia surveyed 500 young women in Sydney aged 18-25 to gain insight into how they experience public spaces in Australia’s biggest city. Shockingly, 90% said they don’t feel safe in their city after dark. They’ve told us they’re being harassed, followed, cat-called, groped or leered at, often on a regular basis. And it’s affecting their routines, their enjoyment of the city and even their mental health. Some have experienced even more severe forms of physical and sexual violence, not only at night, but during the day as well.
For too many young women, street harassment leaves them feeling afraid, powerless and even at fault. Others have become desensitised to it, because after a while, it becomes ’something you have to deal with as a woman’, just a reality of life in the city.
It’s time for a major cultural shift. We need to make Sydney safer for girls.