Grope, chase, stalk, leer at, insult, humiliate… stories of sexual abuse and harassment are endless. Sadly, several forms of abuse in the society are accepted as normal and go unreported. Today, thanks to the rise of #MeToo movement, there’s no stopping the battle against sexual harassment. However, while the number of disturbing reports of #MeToo incidences which have blackened the faces of well-known celebrated names across different walks of life, are growing, young girls are struggling a grim battle.
While more and more women victims are emerging from their dark world in the wake of the #MeToo movement to reveal the truth without any fear, and dropping names, young women and girls too are facing constant sexual abuse and harassment across cities worldwide. But many of their horror stories remain in dark corners still. They feel the futility of speaking up or reporting sexual harassment to authorities concerned, as actions are hardly taken against the culprits. In fact, in many cases, the victims are looked upon with disdain or treated wrongly by the society.
And the young women blame themselves for the wrong on them.
"Constant harassment and abuse is frightening and draining, and leaves young women feeling completely disempowered,” CEO of child rights organisation Plan International Australia, Susanne Legena, said in a report.
Atrocities against young women, according to the report by Plan International, is condoned by the society, bystanders and authorities rarely act against the wrongdoers.
“This indifference and inaction lead many girls and young women to blame themselves for abuse and harassment," Legena said.
In the given helpless scenario, the girls adjust their behaviour to protect themselves.
"The level of danger girls are facing in cities is shocking and we all have a role to play in ensuring everybody feels safe in our cities -- whether they are on the street, on public transport or in parks. Individuals, communities, governments and authorities should all be spurred to act," Nicole Kalms from the Monash University in Australia said.
The report by the Plan International shows that young women suffer constant abuse in cities worldwide, including Delhi. The report, which is based on over 21,000 testimonials of girls and young women living in Delhi, Kampala, Lima, Madrid and Sydney, reveals that in all five cities, boys and men grope, chase, stalk, leer at, verbally insult, and flash girls and young women.
The report also offers a previously unseen glimpse of the impact of harassment and abuse on the lives of girls and young women -
How society deprives young women of opportunities and benefits of city life
"By forcing girls and women to constantly adjust their behaviour to stay safe, the society is denying them the benefits and opportunities of city life," Legena said.
Their access to work and study opportunities, and their ability to enjoy the city, is restricted, she said.
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"The idea that all around the world -- in cities like Delhi, Lima, Kampala, Madrid and Sydney -- girls are being pulled out of school, quitting their jobs or moving because of the harassment and abuse they are subjected to by men is completely unacceptable," Legena said.
Kalms said the harassment of girls and young women transcends geography. "Across five cities, the safety concerns of these young women are frighteningly similar, with the prevalence of sexual harassment in particular standing out," she said.
The research was carried out using an online mapping tool developed by Plan International.