By social affairs correspondent Norman Hermant
One in three young Australian women do not believe they should be in public spaces at night, a report has found.
Nearly a quarter of those asked also said they did not think young women should ever travel on public transport alone.
“We were really surprised to get the results back,” Susanne Legena of child rights agency Plan International Australia said.
“This is Australia in 2016, and you’ve got one in three young women saying they’re afraid to be out in public spaces after dark … and as a result they’re curbing their behaviour.”
The report, A Right to the Night — by the research firm Ipsos — questioned 600 young women aged 15 to 19 across Australia.
The survey was commissioned by Plan International Australia and Our Watch — a not-for-profit group dedicated to preventing violence against women.
“There’s this in-built kind of fear that you all acknowledge that you shouldn’t go out at night if you’re a girl,” 18-year-old Kea Tokley-Higgs, a first year university student, said.
Ms Tokley-Higgs and two friends said they did not find the results surprising — they all feel unsafe after dark in public places.
“Women should feel safe enough to go outside at night. Women are as much a part of the society as men are, so we should have every right to the public space,” 18-year-old Lana Rice said.
“It’s just so shocking and disappointing that a country like ours is still suffering from these sort of ideas, and this fear that’s spreading for all the young women,” Grady-Mae Dixon, also 18, said.
The young women the ABC spoke to said the reasons for feeling unsafe included:
- The many incidents of sexual assaults on women
- Feeling uncomfortable around men who had been drinking
- Feeling insecure in relatively empty areas with poor lighting
Another aspect of the report found nearly a quarter of young women believed they should never take public transport alone.
That number also was not a surprise for Sherry Xu, 18, who is particularly uneasy on public transport after dark.
“At night time, when I’m alone, I feel a little bit apprehensive.” Ms Xu said, as she rode on a relatively empty train in the evening in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
She is also deeply affected by reports of assaults on women.
“Because of these stories, I do feel more frightened when I am taking public transport. Because I’m frightened that these things might actually happen to me, as someone who’s also a young woman.”