Monday, May 27News For London

“I always walk with keys in my hands”: are women safe on London streets?

London after dark. (Credit: Holly Munks)

With winter approaching and days getting darker, women find themselves choosing between outdoor exercise and their own safety.

A recent survey by the non-profit organisation “This Girl Can” revealed that 60 per cent of women are concerned about the risk of sexual harassment or intimidation whilst exercising after dark. The women’s rights group feels that this issue deserves more attention from the public and politicians alike.

They have called on Londoners who are concerned about the issue to join a charity run in Westminster this evening, in the hopes that more people will consider the subtle ways in which women see their freedom of movement compromised.

Speaking to passersby in and around Oxford Street, opinions varied on whether street safety was of particular concern to female residents. It is clear that some women feel relatively safe moving around the capital alone, particularly if they have grown up in London. Nonetheless, the message from most respondents was clear: a woman alone is constantly looking over her shoulder and, as one respondent put it, keeping their keys ready to act as makeshift defence weapons.

The men interviewed had some of the strongest opinions on the topic, speaking with genuine concern that female relatives and friends were not able to exist independently in the same way they could. Many people turn to exercise for much-needed endorphins during the long winter months, and according to Londoners, women are restricted from outdoor activities beneficial to their health based on the threat of violence.

The government is undoubtedly facing serious challenges domestically and internationally this month. For many women and their loved ones, however, women’s safety remains a primary concern – a fact they hope will not be lost on those in charge of making London safer.