Women share ways men can help them feel safer in public – especially at night

News

Following the disappearance of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who was last seen a week ago in Clapham, women have been sharing their fears about walking alone.

They’ve taken to social media to list the numerous ways they attempt to protect themselves when out in public – from threading house keys through their fingers to carrying personal alarms, constantly checking their surroundings and not using both headphones when listening to music or a podcast.

These are tips women are bombarded with and there are many more we are taught from a young age.

But it’s important to note there are also a number of ways men can help women feel safer in public and a charity campaign provides advice on how to do just this.

The charity Plan International launched a campaign back in 2019 called ‘Walk like a Woman’ which features an audio experience of what it’s like to walk as a woman as well as seven tips for men about how to behave around women in public.

Plan International Australia Ambassador and host of Sexism And The City podcast, Jan Fran, explained: “Most men want to help girls and women feel safer, yet they have never thought about how their presence affects girls and women walking alone at night – through no fault of their own, men simply don’t know how it feels to be a woman.”

Here’s a look at the ways you can make a difference:

  1. Keep your distance
    “When walking behind a girl or woman at night, remember that the closer you are, the more threatening you seem. So make sure to leave a good amount of distance between yourself and her.

“If you’re taking public transport, don’t sit next to a woman when there are plenty of empty seats elsewhere – it’s less concerning if you take a seat a few rows away.”

  1. Don’t run up from behind
    “Having someone run up behind you at night can give anyone a fright, but for a girl or woman, it can be terrifying. Next time you’re out for an evening jog and see a woman walking ahead… cross the road or make sure to leave a good amount of space while passing.”
  2. Don’t stare
    “If you’re by yourself, being stared at is intimidating and unsettling. Taking out your phone and focusing on something else can go a long way to showing you’re not a threat. Look out the window to focus on something else, or call a friend to have a chat.”
  3. Keep comments to yourself
    “What you might see as just a bit of fun, or even flattering, is actually harassment and can be terrifying to lone women and girls.”
  4. Keep your mates in line
    “You may not harass women, but if you stay quiet while your mates do then you’re part of the problem.”
  5. Be an active bystander
    “If you notice a woman is uncomfortable with someone’s behaviour, show your support by being an active bystander. It can be as simple as standing between a woman and her harasser to block their line of sight. Ask her if she is OK, and back up anyone else who is intervening.”
  6. Share the walk
    “Keep the conversation going by sharing these tips, and helping girls and women feel safer at night.”