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Mobility is very important to us and yet one in two girls makes a detour in the city for fear of sexual harassment. This is according to a report by Plan International. Plan International works towards a world in which girls and boys can fully develop and have the same rights and opportunities. And that is badly needed, because worldwide girls are disadvantaged and discriminated against on a daily basis. Plan International is now making several recommendations to make our cities safer. The fact that intimidation occurs everywhere, and not just in small alleys, does not help the feeling of security either. The testimonials refer to harassment on the street (29 percent), during leisure time (16 percent) or on public transport (14 percent). What is very alarming is that more than one in ten also talked about the way to school. So it doesn't just take place in the evening or at night. 38 percent said the time of day doesn't matter.

“We started to move differently, we started to dress differently. We avoid certain places and walk as much as possible on the main roads”

Safe places

Plan International now has a investigation report ready about the safety risks for girls and young women in cities around the world in which she formulated recommendations for city governments together with young people. The results are shocking, but for thousands of girls and young women, this is the reality. In addition, Plan International also asks for even more efforts to prosecute perpetrators. Although they also note that only six percent of the victims go to the police. Intimidation, it is even more difficult to prove that someone yelled at you or stepped after you.

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Two years ago, the organization Plan International asked 700 young people whether they had already come into contact with sexual harassment in Brussels, Charleroi or Antwerp. More than 91 percent of the girls and 28 percent of the boys answered then "Yes". Plan International emphasizes that it's not because they conducted their research in three major cities that sexual harassment doesn't happen outside of that. It involves many forms such as whistling, staring at it for long periods, making comments about appearance, approaching overly flirtatious and unwanted touches.

Increase in reports of sexism in a public place

The number of reports is also increasing with regard to gender discrimination in public space. It makes up 15% of the total number of reports received by the Institute. The increase in reports of online transgressive behavior is remarkable. This is partly due to the fact that the Institute was empowered to legally assist victims of revenge porn by the law of May 4, 2020. The number of reports of street harassment doubled compared to 2019. For Liesbet Stevens of the Institute for the equality of women and men it is necessary to view the means in the fight against sexism in a public place. “The current legislation is too limited and does not allow to tackle all facets of this phenomenon”. The Institute regularly received reports of widespread sexist statements in a public place, for which it was unable to intervene. After all, current legislation requires that the sexist statements are addressed to a specific person.

Also read: ILT concludes rail safety improvement on 3 points

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