Press release: Fear And Violence Plague Girls In UK Cities Says Report By Children’s Charity

Fear And Violence Plague Girls In UK Cities Says Report By Children’s Charity

ALMOST half of all girls living in the UK’s biggest cities feel unsafe walking around their neighbourhood after dark and a staggering 42 per cent know someone who has been assaulted, according to a new report by children’s charity Plan UK.

The survey paints a stark picture of life for young girls in 21st century Britain with one in five aged 11-18 often feeling threatened by gangs and 17 per cent fearing that someone will assault them.

The survey is part of a wider Because I am a Girl report which examines the state of the world’s girls in cities across the developed and developing world.

The full publication, Digital and Urban Frontiers: Girls in a Changing Landscape, reveals that in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa 77 per cent of girls are afraid to walk through their neighbourhood after dark.*

Fourteen per cent know of girls locally who have been raped and 50 per cent are scared that they will be raped in their own neighbourhood.

Plan’s Because I am a Girl ambassador Kathy Lette said: “Females have black belts in tongue-fu, we can give a man a good tongue lashing at ten paces but sadly that’s our only physical superiority over blokes.

“This latest research shows that girls in UK cities feel threatened and exposed to violence on a daily basis.

“And if it’s that bad in Britain imagine what it’s like for young women living in cities in the poorest parts of the world where they face harassment, rape and other violence every single day ensuring they end up as losers in the human race – surely it’s time we ended this sexism in the city.”

The UK survey revealed that nine out of ten girls think more police on the streets would make them feel safer in their home cities and 91 per cent say better street lighting would make a big difference.

More than 500 girls took part in the survey living in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Coventry, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

In the capital over half of girls thought crime in their local area had gone up in the last few years and ten per cent of girls living in cities in the Midlands knew someone who had been assaulted in their neighbourhood in the last six months.

Marie Staunton, chief executive of Plan UK, said: “It is unacceptable that in cities all over the world, including the UK, girls are often scared to go out.

“Poor street lighting, overcrowded housing, and harassment on public transport all contribute to the very real risks that girls face. These are issues that must be tackled.

“City life should present great opportunities for girls and young women – we know that in the developing world girls in cities have better access to both education and health services. Living in cities can often be liberating. Violence and fear of violence should not be allowed to rule girls’ lives.”

Meanwhile in the developing world thousands of girls are migrating from rural areas to big cities on a daily basis in search of better education, healthcare and economic opportunities, as well as more autonomy and independence.

But the report says prejudice and poverty exclude millions of girls from taking advantages of the transformative possibilities on offer.

Urban poverty, overcrowding, unlit streets, lack of proper housing and transport and sexual harassment can mean many city girls do not feel safe. And those forced to live on the streets are most at risk of exploitation, violence, crime and disease; often abused by the very people supposed to protect them.

There are currently 300 million girls living on the street around the world and each week one million people move from the countryside to a city slum district. By 2030 approximately 1.5 billion girls will live in urban areas.

The report argues that girls need to be able to gain the skills to protect themselves and to recognise both the threats and the opportunities that await them on the city streets.

The report, which is the fourth in Plan’s Because I am a Girl series of annual publications on the state of the world’s girls, say international, national and municipal authorities must make it their responsibility to make both the cities girl-friendly.

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