CONTENT WARNING: The following article discusses sexual assault and sexual violence.

An interactive online map has revealed hundreds of spots across Sydney where girls and women have experienced street harassment, including cat-calling and sexual assault.

Girls’ equality charity, Plan International Australia, and Monash University, used crowdmapping technology so that girls and woman could anonymously record incidents of street harassment in 2018.

It defines street harassment as “unwelcome sexist behaviours and sexual harassment that occurs in public spaces, which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.”

The interactive map, a Safe Cities Free To Be project, is part of a wider analysis of street harassment around the world. Across Sydney, Madrid, Lima, Kampala, and Delhi, girls and women marked 14,500 specific spots.

The map is filtered by spot type – purple pins for good spots and orange for bad. Each spot is accompanied with descriptions, like whether a certain area is safe during the day or night. Many orange pins detail incidents of alleged stalking, threatening behaviour, and sexual assault.

Plan International Australia and Monash University also released a report looking at the rates and experiences of reporting street harassment to authorities across the five cities. In Sydney, one in three women who reported incidents of sexual harassment saw it result in some kind of action, the report found.

Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena says “authorities need to pay attention”.

“It takes a lot of courage to report harassment, but it’s clear that even when girls do report, they are not taken seriously or the system isn’t set up to support them. Too many of these reports just fall into the cracks.”

Legena says girls and woman everywhere “have just had to endure harassment as a normal part of their daily lives”, which over time can have a serious impact on their well-being.

“Authorities need to encourage girls and young women to report instances of harassment, improve the responses they receive from authorities, and invest in public awareness and behaviour change campaigns.

“Our message is that every single report needs to be taken seriously and the system needs to change to ensure there’s a clear process for reporting. Unless and until this happens, the cycle of underreporting, internalisation and social acceptance of street harassment will continue.”

You can look at Plan International’s Sydney Map here. Please note that some stories include descriptions of incidents that people may find distressing.

If you would like to talk to a counsellor about rape, sexual assault or domestic violence, please contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Image: Getty Images / Victoria Likhareva