"Therefore organisations such as #reclaimthenight which promote women walking at night are promoting a high-fear-of-crime group to put itself in a high-fear-of-crime situation. Fine, they have every right to do so. But in this hyper-vigilant, high-fear era, we need to be clear on where the fear is coming from. And re vigilantism, we cannot scapegoat others for our pre-existing fear."
Fear of Crime.
This is a curly issue to raise, and although I write about high-fear, I must stress from the outset that VICTIMS DO NOT MAKE PERPETRATORS PERPETRATE, VICTIMS DO NOT ASK FOR IT, and WOMEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO WALK ANYWHERE ANYTIME. I seek here to put perspective on Fear of Crime.
The Australian Institute of Criminology defines women as a high-fear of crime group.
“A point of some importance is that “high-fear” groups are not especially characterised by age. Rather differences, hold within age groups. Thus, for instance, while it is well established that women are more fearful of crime than men (or at least admit to it more), younger women are more fearful than younger men, as well as older women being more fearful than older men.”
“Apart from the gender difference, other main findings are:
“people who live in high-crime areas are more likely than those who live in areas with lower levels of crime to be fearful”
“local disorder (such as noisy neighbours, poor street-lighting, and teenagers hanging around) is predictive of virtually all measures of fear”
“personal experience of being victimised, and greater contact with other victims, heightens fear”
The Australian Institute of Criminology also says that fear for “safety on the streets after dark” is a general, non-specific fear. "The “safety on the streets after dark” question is a very common one in crime surveys, and indeed is sometimes the only one asked. The much higher levels of anxiety among older people in response to this question may well explain why the notion of excessive fear among older people has taken such hold."
"The reason why older people are more fearful about their safety on the streets alone at night is not entirely clear. Note that the question does not mention crime, and it could be that the prospect of being out alone on dark public streets may evoke anxiety about a greater range of mishaps (for example, falling over), especially as the emotional, physical and financial consequences could be worse for older people" (James & Graycar 2000).
"The question is also hypothetical for those who rarely go out alone after dark, which will be the case for many older people. It might also be that “street-crime” affecting older people is particularly overdramatised in the media—and many older people may form their perception of crime through this."
But despite being a primal fear, it hardly ever happens.
According to Dr Powell's research for VicHealth the most common form of death for Victorian women AGED 15-44 is "intimate partner violence".
Not cars, not smoking, but being killed by a man they know.
Therefore organisations which promote women walking at night are promoting a high-fear-of-crime group to put itself in a high-fear-of-crime situation. Fine, they have every right to do so. But in this hyper-vigilant, high-fear era, we need to be clear on where the fear is coming from. And re vigilantism, we cannot scapegoat others for our pre-existing fear.
Fear of Crime Ch. 4
A Safe and Secure Environment for Older Australians
Marianne James, Adam Graycar and Pat Mayhew
Australian Institute of Criminology Research and Public Policy Series No. 51 2003