More than 50 percent of women and girls feel anxious in public places like buses and bus stops and more than 30 percent cannot find clean public toilets to use, according to a report that also blamed women partly for the violence and harassment against themselves in public places.

The report “For a safe city for women and girls” was released on December 2 in Hanoi by the Department of Gender Equality (DGE) under the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Research Center for Gender, Family and Environment in Development and ActionAid Vietnam.

Tran Thi Bich Loan gives an opening speech at the conference. Photo: ActionAid Vi​etnam

The report was compiled by organizations that studied violence against women and girls in Hanoi, Hai Phong, Uong Bi, Tra Vinh and Ho Chi Minh City from August to September 2016.

Researchers interviewed and surveyed more than 2,000 people including women and girls between the age of 16 and 60, and men.

The report aimed to study sexual harassment against women and girls in public places such as streets, parks, buses and public toilets, and propose appropriate policy recommendations.

The research also pointed out that when violence or harassment occurs in a public place, more than 40 percent of women keep silent instead of reporting to police.

Tran Thi Bich Loan, deputy director of the DGE, said, “It is obvious that public services in many cities in Vietnam have not met demand and have not ensured gender sensitivity as well. Public buses and toilets are used daily by citizens but contain many risks of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.”

Hoang Phuong Thao, country director of ActionAid Vietnam, said, “To solve the problem, it is necessary to get more attention from the Government to create safe spaces for women and girls. We need to bring a change in mind and action in each of us.”

“We hope you will take action together with ActionAid Vietnam, our partners and more than 150 cities in 20 countries participating in the ‘Safe Cities Campaign’ to build our cities to become safer for women and girls as our pride,” she said.

Researchers proposed the law require stronger penalties for those who commit harassment.

Cameras should be installed on buses and at bus stations.

Concerned organizations need to integrate knowledge about social and interpersonal skills for women and girls, especially about how to protect themselves.

Security forces should be strengthened to carry out patrols in public, especially in solitude places.

Source: VNA