Women and girls feel unsafe in large Germany cities, survey finds

Women and girls feel unsafe in large Germany cities, survey finds

Women and girls in Germany feel increasingly unsafe when out and about in large cities, according to a new survey. One in four reports experiencing sexual harassment. 

Women and girls experience verbal and sexual harassment

Whether it’s being subject to verbal abuse, being intimidated or followed on poorly lit streets, or receiving unwanted sexual touching on the U-Bahn, women and girls do not always feel safe in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich. That’s the conclusion drawn by a new report from the children’s aid organisation Plan International, which was presented in Hamburg this week.

“Our survey made it clear that girls and young women in large German cities are sexually harassed, followed, threatened and insulted on a daily basis,” said Plan boss Maike Röttger. This denies them their right to move around their city freely and safely - to go to work or school, to meet up with friends or go on a night out. 

“Danger spots” in German cities

A total of nearly 1.000 women and girls aged between 16 and 71 took part in the “Safe in the City” survey between January and March 2020. On an interactive map, they placed “pins” in places where they felt safe or unsafe. 

Of 1.267 marked locations, 80 percent were rated as unsafe and only 20 percent as safe. On average, each of the participants marked at least one place in their city where they did not feel safe, while just one in three were able to mark a safe space. 

According to the survey, every fifth participant has already been a victim of violence, persecution or threats. The most frequently mentioned reasons for feeling unsafe were encounters with groups of people consuming alcohol or drugs, poorly lit paths and parks, and isolated areas where help would be lacking in an emergency

Need for action

“The survey showed that there is great need for action,” said Röttger, emphasising that every woman and girl has the right to move around their city freely and without fear. Urban development measures such as improved street lighting or the abolition of closed-off, gloomy corners in parks, for example, would be a good step, she said. 

“It is just as important, however, that we change gender role models that still suggest to many boys and men that it is completely okay to harass women,” said Röttger. “Underlying stereotypes and discrimination are the deeper reasons why girls and women cannot feel safe.”



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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