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Let’s hear from the men too!

Striving to better understand the safety problems women and girls encounter in urban environments, I interviewed affected women, experts in gender issues but also men. In this contribution I will focus on the male perspective on how to make cities safer. The unique insights men offer, allow us to see problems and their possible solutions in a different light.

Photo of Lana Criggs
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To contextualize the story of the young man interviewed, here’s some general information about the community and the environment his experiences refer to: 

The 25-year old Romanian moved to Germany after completing his undergraduate studies. In search for a job—and a better life—at first he landed in one of Berlin’s less safe neighborhoods. He became aware of many safety problem that especially affect women and girls, but also understood how the various measures taken by the German government, NGOs, and the local communities themselves helped to solve the challenge.

Here are key insights from the interview that continue the discussion about shifting societies’ attitudes towards women and implementing concrete measures to enhance safety.

Emergency boxes and educational ads portraying strong women as a powerful mix

Public transport means affordable freedom of mobility for many women and girls. But there is a hidden cost of public transport, especially the metro: many violent crimes are committed in the underground stations, sometimes despite video monitoring like in Germany’s capital. 
As a consequence, emergency call boxes are often available in the stations. Sadly the emergency boxes aren’t used as often as needed, with bystanders sometime remaining passive when they witness crimes. 
This is where educational adds come into play. They inform about emergency situations and the use of call boxes, encouraging everyone to stand up for victims of crimes. The adds double their positive impact by also depicting strong women making the emergency call when needed.

While emergency call boxes can’t be found everywhere in the world, a campaign promoting civil courage and a strong image of women is something easily implementable in all corners of the world. Education of both men and women is a powerful and empowering tool, not only for the individual but also for the whole community.


Well-kept neighborhoods, even the red light district

It is known that an untidy neighborhood not only feels unsafer but also invites a more respectless behavior within the community (broken window theory). Red light districts are no exception to this rule so Berlin keeps investing in making the district safer and more tidy. A few years back prostitution was legalized in Germany to better protect both prostitutes and their clients. Red light districts have formed and the industry in general became better regulated. Forced prostitution decreased, health concerns for prostitutes and clients have been reduced by mandatory check-ups, and tax evasion is now also prevented.

While full legalization and regimentation of the sex industry isn’t a viable option for all societies, protecting sex workers, who are mostly low income women, should be a focus everywhere. The vulnerable women not only face extensive health risks, and safety issues in general, often they are even forced into prostitution. More initiatives are needed to ensure both the safety of sex workers and also of red light districts as a whole.



Care to join the discussion and give your opinion on the two main topics of the interview? 
Are you familiar with similar examples that would enrich this conversation? 
Please post your thoughts in comment section or feel free to build your contribution upon this one.

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Photo of Matthew Page

Another empowering message, that could help to make the areas safer, might involve teaching about strong women in our public schools system. Using those women to provide role models for everyone to look up to and stop marginalized the female role in our history. Not just putting ads up.

Photo of Lana Criggs

I totally agree that ads alone can't make a change. Education in all its forms is key to slowly shifting attitudes towards women. Here's a wonderful collection of educational resources teaching about powerful and influential women in history: http://www.amightygirl.com/character-collection/historical-characters-1

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