Bogota is the worst city to live in for girls and young women when it comes to sexual harassment, a report by a humanitarian group says.
The report by Plan International, titled “Girls’ Safety in Cities across the World”, surveyed almost 400 experts in 22 cities across six continents, in order to examine the safety risks that girls and young women face on a large scale.
It found that Lima is the world‘s most dangerous city for girls to go out alone, either during the day or the night, while Johannesburg the most hazardous for theft, robbery and sexual assault or rape.
Stockholm is the safest city for sexual harassment and for girls to leave the house alone or use public transport, the survey found.
The poll is the first of its kind to highlight the universality of the dangers girls and young women face in cities and public spaces across different societies and cultures, which it says affects the lives of millions and yet remains ignored.
According to the report, sexual harassment, which is described as hassling, eve-teasing, stalking, touching, flashing and staring, was found to be the number-one safety risk facing girls and young women.
At least 78 percent of experts described sexual harassment as a high to extremely high risk for girls, and 77 percent said that it occurs either very or fairly often within public spaces in their city.
Furthermore, 60 percent of experts said sexual harassment in their city is never or hardly ever reported to the authorities.
In Johannesburg and Bogota, all experts taking part in the survey agreed that the risk of sexual harassment is high to extremely high.
When asked how Bogota could be made a safer place for girls and young women, one respondent said: “It is very important to change gender norms, especially those that make men believe that they own public spaces and women’s bodies. This would help women feel women more secure.”
Other respondents expressed a number of other solutions, such as tackling harmful gender norms by giving gender training and awareness-raising among boys and men.
Some pointed to the necessity of improving city infrastructure, such as “appropriate lighting at night” and a ban on drinking in public, while others referred to the need for more political will to change the status quo and for improved law enforcement.
According to an expert in Toronto, more young girls and women are needed on government committees entrusted with safety planning.
“Of course, there should be a behaviour change of the society in looking at women’s and girls’ rights in general,” an expert in Jakarta said.
“The government and law enforcement should have the laws that protect and guarantee the safety of women and girls.”