Why we still need to make the world a safer place for women and girls
In early March 2021, The World Health Organisation published a report saying that 1 in 3 women globally have experienced physical and sexual violence in their lifetime.
It’s worthwhile noting that the Office of National Statistics Crime Survey for England and Wales for the year ending March 2020 (which due to Covid-19 was the last time such a detailed survey was taken), reported that 618,000 women and 155,000 men were estimated to have been victims, or attempted victims of rape or sexual assault. That’s more than 70 women in England and Wales experiencing at least 1 of these offences every hour.
The shocking statistics on these types of criminal offences alone prove that there is an urgent need for protection from all types of criminal behaviour against women. Including spiking drinks, revenge porn, stalking, domestic abuse, harassment and on-line abuse. Unwanted behaviour such as wolf-whistling, catcalling or making lewd comments could also become criminal offences under new proposals by The Law Commission.
Current legislation and proposals from influential government bodies aside, personal protection is something every individual needs to consider very seriously, and ideally have in place in today’s ever threatening society. Remember, protection comes in the form of many guises, including running away!
But what can you do to protect yourself in order to stay safe and secure?
There is no simple answer, and some people insist that education is the answer, and that women shouldn’t have to be tasked for their safety. Agreed. But how long will this take and who will fund it? That’s not to say we shouldn’t try. But in the meantime, what can be done to make women feel less vulnerable.
Devise your own safety strategy
Begin with creating your own personal safety strategy, or a tick list of planned actions that you undertake before venturing out. Although they’ll most likely overlap, it’s preferable to have different tick lists for different activities.
For example, when going out at night, tell one or more close friends where you’re going, who you’re meeting, what time you’ll be back. Never leave your drink unattended. Know how you’re getting home, and pre book your taxi. If driving, park in a street that’s busy at night and ideally near where you’re going, so that you don’t have far to walk. Don’t flaunt your valuables, and try not to have your hair in a ponytail as it makes it easier for an attacker to grab you.
Here’s another tip; don’t post real-time selfies, give away your location, or post where you’re going to be later on. Kim Kardashian did, and she ended up having a lot of her jewellery stolen.
Advances in technology and proliferating social media platforms fuel a number of the ways in which attackers’ scam, intimidate and abuse their victims. For example, Tinder is the dating app most targeted by fraud. “It’s far too easy to set up a fake profile on an online dating site or social media” – Jason Costain, Head of Fraud Prevention NatWest.
The same advances in technology mean there are now many safety apps that have received a great deal of publicity, one is even backed by the government, and to a degree they all do the same thing, or a variation of, tracking an individual and alerting a named contact should destination times be missed. A useful tool to have.
But here’s the elephant in the room. Will such an app prevent your drink being spiked? Will it prevent you from being harassed? Will it prevent someone from physically attacking you?
So don’t make the mistake of being over reliant on technology.
Limit your screen time in public
When coming or going to work, never be pre occupied with your phone, or wear headphones especially when walking. You need all your senses to be focused on your surroundings. If taking the train, always go for the middle carriages – they tend to be the busiest, and thus offer more safety.
Prepare yourself with safety products you can easily carry with you at all times. Allowing you to be safe in the knowledge that you are secure and in control of your safety when out.
There are many different types of legal rape alarms available to purchase, such as easy activation alarms which will continue to operate even if dropped on the ground, those with ultraviolet tracers with repulsive odours or with strobe lights. There are products that will prevent your drink being spiked, and kits available to test your drinks should you be concerned. Carry an emergency phone charger, and if you’re staying away overnight and feel vulnerable, what could offer more protection than a portable door lock as additional security.
In an age when time is the most precious commodity, it can be time consuming researching which personal safety products to use and trust. Which is why it’s important to find a trusted retailer such as Life Centric, the recognised leader in personal safety. They also provide advice on various topics related to personal safety, and will shortly have an online course on how to stay safe when out and about.
Remember, if you’re being attacked, you are permitted to use ‘reasonable force to protect yourself’.
Above all else, it’s about being vigilant, being prepared and staying safe.