Disrespect towards women in public

Disrespect towards women in public can happen in bars and restaurants, parks and other public spaces, at live music gigs, sporting events, and on public transport.

It also happens in public waiting spaces, like doctor’s offices and airports. It can include:

  • wolf-whistling and catcalling women
  • directing questions about women to men who are with them
  • getting unnecessarily close to women
  • staring at women and making them feel uncomfortable.

Key facts about disrespect towards women in public

  • Around half of women don’t feel safe walking alone at night – the worst rate of any developed country ( Community Council for Australia , 2019)
  • Almost all women (90%) have been catcalled or sexually harassed in the street – most were children when it first happened ( Plan Australia , 2018).

How to do something

  • Show your disapproval of a wolf-whistle by shaking your head
  • Support women by checking in and asking if they are OK
  • Speak up: 'Hey mate, that's not appropriate'.
"Once on RocKwiz in front of two thousand people one contestant...just started paying out on his wife...and I just had to say, 'Not on my stage.'" Julia Zemiro Our Watch Ambassador

Extra advice

  • Make eye contact with people around you to find allies
  • Engage in a conversation with the woman being disrespected and make her feel safer
  • Assess the situation before speaking up to ensure it is safe.

If things turn violent or abusive

  • Don't put yourself at risk by intervening in violence – call the police on triple zero (000)
  • If you or someone in your life is at risk of violence or using violence, please visit the Help and support page for support services