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Almost 50% of Girls Under 18 Feel Unsafe in UK Cities

MarieClaire.co.uk, 21 September 2010

We must make cities safe for girls and help them to develop the skills to protect themselves and to recognise both the threats and the opportunities that await them.

Research by the children's charity Plan UK has shown that almost half of girls aged up to 18 feel unsafe going out in their own neighbourhoods in the UK’s biggest cities.

One in five respondents said they felt threatened by gangs, while more than 40% of the girls surveyed said they knew someone who had been attacked or assaulted.

Marie Staunton, chief executive of Plan UK said:

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. It is unacceptable that, in cities all over the world, including the UK, girls are often scared to go out.

The girls aged between 11 and 18 were questioned as part of a wider international report examining the problems facing girls in cities across the developed and developing world, which is due to be published by Plan UK next week.

The surveys showed that more than 50% of girls in London thought that crime in their local areas had risen over the past few years.

Some 10% of girls living in the West Midlands knew of someone who had been attacked or assaulted in their neighbourhood in the last six months.

Internationally, in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a worrying 77% of girls said they were afraid to work through their own neighbourhoods after dark and 14% have friends who have been raped while 50% live in fear of sexual assault.

With an increasing influx of girls in both the developed and developing world moving to big cities for education, independence and economic opportunities, international and national authorities must make it their responsibility to make cities safer for young women.

Cherie Blair, a loyal supporter of Plan UK says:

We must make cities safe for girls and help them to develop the skills to protect themselves and to recognise both the threats and the opportunities that await them.