All over the world, the street is a place of community. But for women, LGBTI people and people of colour, the street can be a place of torment and fear.
Street harassment is a serious issue that, according to statistics, nearly the entire female population will experience at some point in their lives.
Harassment can be difficult to identify, because it appears in dozens of different forms. The most drastic form of street harassment is rape, but harassment can range from comments about appearance or staring too long at someone.
University of Wollongong professor Brian Martin has studied and written about street harassment.
“Often subtle, sometimes blatant, sometimes humiliating and that makes it hard to talk about,” Prof. Martin said.
Even though many of these incidents are not reported, it is still clear women continue to feel uncomfortable on the street – particularly at night or when alone. The Australian Institute reported in the past 12 months, 87 per cent of women have taken action to ensure their own safety. Actions such as avoiding walking at night, pretending to talk on the phone and texting a friend when they’d returned home safely.
However, it is not just women who can be victims. Statistics of street harassment are also high for men and women who are believed to be gay and who are of Indigenous descent.