Are girls really trustworthy

Women experience fear, harassment and violence in their cities

Hamburg, Aug 12, 2020 -

Hardly any woman feels safe when she is out and about in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne or Munich. That is the result of the survey “Safe in the City?” Carried out by Plan International from January to March of this year on perceived security in major German cities. Almost 1,000 participants put so-called “pins” (markings) on interactive city maps at places that they had experienced as safe or unsafe. Of the total of 1,267 placemarks placed, 80 percent were classified as negative. This was justified, for example, with intrusive sayings while jogging in the park, with poorly lit streets on the way home, persecution or immoral contact. Maike Röttger, Managing Director of Plan International Germany: “Our survey shows that girls and women cannot really move around safely and freely in their city. On average, each of the participants marked an unsafe place in their environment. One in four women has experienced sexual harassment and one in five has been persecuted, insulted and threatened. A result that gives us a lot to think about. "

The most frequently mentioned reasons for feeling unsafe are encounters with groups of people who consume alcohol or drugs, poorly lit paths and parks as well as lonely areas where help would be lacking in an emergency. Maike Röttger: “Our survey showed that there is a great need for action. Every girl and woman has the right to move around their city freely and without fear. To get there, girls and women should be actively involved in shaping their environment. Urban development measures such as more or better lighting or the elimination of obscure, gloomy corners in parks, for example, would be a good first step. It is just as important, however, that we change gender roles that still suggest to many boys and men that it is perfectly okay to harass women. Stereotypes and discrimination are the underlying reasons why girls and women cannot feel safe. "

A survey published by Plan International in 2018 in the metropolises of Delhi, Sydney, Kampala, Lima and Madrid has already shown that a large proportion of girls and young women in the city do not feel safe. Of a total of more than 21,000 location markings, almost 80 percent were also negative. This result is congruent with the German “Safe in the City?” Survey. In order to make the urban living space safer for girls and women, Plan International launched the “Urban Program - Safer Cities for Girls” in 2014 together with UN-Habitat. It is currently being carried out in 12 countries, including Egypt, India, Peru, Uganda, Australia and Spain.

The most important results of the "Safe in the City?" Survey:

  • Of 1,267 marked locations, 80 percent were rated as unsafe and only 20 percent as safe. On average, each of the 940 participants marked at least one place in their city where they did not feel safe. On the other hand, only every third woman has marked a place that is safe for her.
  • Every fourth woman has experienced sexual harassment in her city. About 26 percent of all negative markings on the "Safer Cities Map" were justified by the fact that they had already been sexually harassed there.
  • On average, one in five participants has already been the victim of violence, persecution or threats in their city. Most of the incidents experienced were physical and verbal attacks.
  • The most frequently cited reason for feeling insecure among girls and women is frightening people, especially people who use drugs or alcohol in public. Poor lighting was also often cited as a reason for feeling unsafe. In third place of the reasons is the feeling of being cut off from help.
  • Girls and women feel most insecure when they are out and about on the street. They also feel uncomfortable while waiting for or using public transport, or when they are in parks or green spaces. On the other hand, they feel safe in bars, restaurants or at events.
  • The majority of participants feel most insecure in their city when it is dark: 806 of the 1,014 negative pins were set in the evening or at night, while only 208 pins were set during the day.

Further information, photos and graphics for download can be found in our press

Plan International Deutschland e.V., Communication, Bramfelder Str. 70, 22305 Hamburg

  • Alexandra Tschacher, head of the press team, Tel. 040 / 607716-278
  • Claudia Ulferts, press officer, Tel. 040 / 607716-267, [email protected]