subscribe: Posts | Comments

Poll reveals that one in four women in London feels unsafe on public transport

1 comment

Naomi Wilcox
WVoN co-editor

A YouGov poll published by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition this week revealed that over a quarter of women living in London feel unsafe when using public transport.

The poll was published before yesterday’s London mayoral elections along with a 10 point plan to help “make London the world’s safest city for women”.

Over 1,000 people took part in the poll, of whom 523 were women. It found that 28% percent of women felt unsafe when using public transport during day or night, compared to 15% of men.

Women surveyed admitted to moving carriages and changing buses  in an attempt to feel safer when travelling alone. Sexual harassment was identified as one of the main causes of unease.

One woman said;

“”I feel safer on public transport than I do walking around, but I have still experienced several nasty incidents of sexual harassment on the tube where I have been forced to change carriage or leave the train a stop early to avoid harassment from men.”

Marai Larasi, co-chair of EVAW Coalition said:

“These poll results are truly disturbing. They confirm what many women already know – that thousands of us are worried about our safety if we choose to travel alone. And that many women and girls in London actually do not feel able to travel after dark because of these fears.”

I spoke to several female Londoners to ask them how safe they felt on London transport. Interestingly, they all said that they felt relatively safe on buses and the tube, mentioning CCTV and the security of being with other passengers.

One common theme soon became clear however, which was summed up nicely by this woman’s comment:

‘I always feel fairly safe on public transport, it’s when I get OFF I don’t feel safe’.

One 24 year old who lives in Hackney added that ‘people feel more anonymous when walking down the street, when on transport you’re contained and in a sense you’re more accountable for your actions…. There are more witnesses generally on public transport’.

‘What needs to be addressed’ she said, ‘are people values, respect for another and their environment.’

The sad truth is that whether on public transport or in other public spaces women face harassment.

This can be clearly seen on even a cursory glance at some of the stories on the Hollaback London webpage, and it doesn’t take much to know that London isn’t an exception.

So it’s crucial that the newly elected mayor makes the safety of women in all areas of their lives a priority.

For its part, EVAW urged all candidates to commit to its manifesto which covers a range of concerns facing women in the capital, including domestic violence, forced marriage and FGM.

Professor Liz Kelly, co-chair of the Coalition concluded:

“London’s mayor has already led the development of an excellent strategy on ending violence against women and girls – which has been admired by other UK cities and around the world.

“We need to see a commitment to renewing and improving this strategy, and truly leading London to become the world’s safest city for women.”

My own hope, as the election results are announced, is that not just London, but all our cities make the safety of women a high and urgent priority.

  1. I don’t think this feeling of being unsafe when alone is isolated to London. While I think I’m more aware of my own safety when travelling in London (due to the aggressiveness of other passengers) I wouldn’t say I ever felt safe when travelling anywhere alone in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *