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Sexual harassment of young girls and women ‘normal’ in Sydney

The harassment and abuse of girls and young women in Sydney is so common that victims believe it is normal, a new report suggests.

An investigation by child rights organisation Plan International covering five international cities has recommended that women and girls be involved in designing cities to help combat the issue.

The other cities included Delhi in India, Lima in Peru, Kampala in Uganda and Madrid in Spain.

In Sydney, the study had women use an online mapping tool to drop pins on areas throughout the city to track places where they feel unsafe.

Of more than 2000 places mapped, three-quarters were marked by the women as unsafe.

The results provide a glimpse into the impact of harassment and abuse on the lives of girls and women with most having to change their behaviour to protect themselves, according to Plan International Australia chief executive Susanne Legena.

“Constant harassment and abuse is frightening and draining and leaves young women feeling completely disempowered,” she said in a statement on Thursday.

“The indifference and inaction leads many girls and young women to blame themselves for abuse and harassment.

“What’s more, by forcing girls and women to constantly adjust their behaviour to stay safe, society is denying them the benefits and opportunities of city life.”

The data showed that victims felt there was little point in reporting harassment because authorities and bystanders rarely took action to help them.

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