Vile minority of men puts Australia to shame

January 18, 2017

Given a third of young Australian women say they avoid public places after dark, I’m all for measures to make them feel safer.

One such initiative is the female-only ride sharing service announced last week called Shebah. I’m also all for increased lighting and CCTV cameras if they will make women feel safer on the streets.

But these measures, however welcome and important, are a bandaid solution for the real problem. What we really need to look at — and address — is what’s making women feel unsafe in the first place.

According to substantial research, what causes this feeling is the threat of harassment, abuse and physical or sexual violence from men. And this is a very real fear, with almost 90 per cent of Australian women reporting having experienced some form of street harassment.

Not surprisingly, we know that when women do go out at night, many take preventive measures to try to protect themselves. I’d be surprised if any woman reading this hasn’t put keys through their knuckles as a defensive measure, crossed the street to avoid men or badly lit areas, or called/texted their loved ones after being out to let them know they had arrived home safely.

Reports of sexual assault were at an all time high last year so I’m not at all surprised that women modify their behaviour to avoid being targets of harassment and abuse. I do it myself.

But we shouldn’t have to.

George McEncroe (pictured) is the founder of Shebah, the first women-only rideshare service in Australia. But we need to look closely at why we need this service in the first place. (Pic: News Corp/Carmelo Bazzano)

Our survey with Plan International Australia of young Australian women aged 15-19 years, A Right to the Night, revealed that although respondents believed sexual harassment in public places is both serious and never justified, 17 per cent believed girls’ clothing choices made them at least partly responsible for such harassment.

We are blaming ourselves for the behaviour of a vile minority of men who make women feel unsafe.

These men put other men to shame.

They put Australia to shame.

And as a community we should be looking to change the behaviour of these men, not just putting all the responsibility on women to protect themselves.

But the other important point to make is that despite women believing they are most unsafe on the street, the statistics clearly show that we are in fact most likely to experience violence and abuse — even murder — in our own homes, and by men we know.

To repeat an all too familiar and tragic example of these statistics, 1 in 4 Australian women has experienced violence from a current or former partner

Originally Published by Perth Now, continue reading here.

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