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Unsafe in the city (Research into the everyday experiences of girls and young women)

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In the course of this ground-breaking research, thousands of girls and young women have shared their stories of harassment and violence for the first time, providing a never-before seen glimpse of what they experience in their cities and the impact this has on their lives.


  • Cities are not safe places for girls and young women: on the streets, on public transport and in most public spaces they are frequently made to feel uncomfortable, unsafe and intimidated, just because they are young and female.

  • The underlying cause of many girls’ and young women’s feeling of insecurity is male behaviour. The problem cannot simply be blamed on a lack of security and lighting.

  • Transport hubs, train and bus stations and bus stops are prime locations for groping and harassment – central meeting points, crowded places through which men could pass quickly without being identified.

  • In all five cities, to be groped, cat-called and abused is so common, girls start to perceive it as “just normal”.

  • Girls and young women are harassed at all times of the day and night.

  • For the most part, witnesses just stand by and do little or nothing to help and girls feel that there is little point in reporting harassment to the authorities because they believe the authorities have neither the will nor the power to do anything about it.

  • The indifference and inaction of city authorities and wider society leads many girls and young women to blame themselves for abuse and harassment.

  • Girls and young women are forced to modify their own behaviour to keep themselves safe: this places limitations on their freedom, opportunity and equality.

  • Many girls avoid certain places on their own. Some have even dropped out of school or had to leave their jobs because they simply can’t get around their cities safely.