One in five young Australian women feel less safe alone at night than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey has found.
The Plan International Australia report, released on Thursday, found only five per cent of women aged between 18 and 24 felt safer in places like streets, train stations and parks.
Conversely, almost 20 per cent reported they felt less safe after dark in public environments.
For young women with a disability, more than one in four said they felt less safe.
“COVID-19 closed borders, it ground entire industries to a halt and caused restaurants and retailers to shut their doors, but it didn’t stop street harassment,” Plan International Australia chief executive Susanne Legena said.
“All of these findings prove that as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, the world is still off track when it comes to gender equality and the safety of women and girls.”
Youth advocate Ruvimbo Togara said she has experienced street harassment on multiple occasions.
“All of this heavy news is weighing on us all and it certainly has led to me feeling more nervous when I’m outside,” she said.
“At the same time, I get the sense that all of this has emboldened perpetrators of violence.
“I feel like the street harassment I now experience is more aggressive, more brazen. It’s really chilling.”
Ms Togara said feeling safe should be a right and more needs to be done to protect women and gender-diverse people.
“I’m tired of walking around during the day or night expecting something bad to happen,” she said.
“When will I be able to walk freely and confidently without worry? I am deserving of that and so are other people who embody this experience.”
The Plan International Australia survey of 500 women, conducted by YouGov, has been released during International Anti-Street Harassment Week.