Sydney women use geo-locative app to map sexual harassment hotspots

SYDNEY, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Women in Sydney are using an app to log sites where they have experienced sexual harassment, as part of a trial initiative by children's advocacy group, Plan International.

Plan International Australia's chief executive Susanne Legena told Xinhua on Friday that the project, called Free to Be, is a way of collecting the experiences of young women which have previously gone under-acknowledged.

"Young women are able to put in a happy pin in the places which they love and feel safe in, and they can also put a pin in a place where they feel unsafe or incidents have occurred," Legena said.

The project operated in five cities -- Delhi, Kampala, Lima, Madrid and Sydney -- and according to Legena, in all of those areas women reported experiencing the threat of harassment and assaults.

"The kinds of things they talked about were being groped, catcalled, abused and some of them were sexually assaulted," Legena said.

"They talked about transport hubs, train and bus stations as prime locations for this kind of harassment and crowded places where people could pass through quickly without being identified."

Teaching young men better how to respect women is one of the recommendations of the report, as well as consulting with women on the design and structure of city services.

Of the participants in the survey, which totalled 21,000 pins, less than 10 percent had ever reported cases of assault to authorities and Legena believes that technology is providing an opportunity to bring these issues into the light.

"The technology allowed us to collect data that had otherwise been hidden, or not captured, so people are living this everyday but we wouldn't know about it because it doesn't appear in the crime stats because they're actually not reporting back to police," Legena said.

At a time when women's experiences with sexual harassment and assault are becoming increasingly prevalent, Legena believes that significant change is possible.

"If you're a girl or a young woman in the world, the street is not necessarily a place where you feel free, safe, or equal to your male counterparts," Legena said.

"In 2018 we're saying 'Is that really acceptable to us, given that they're 50 percent of the population?'"

[ Editor: WPY ]


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