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A RECENT international survey serves as a dampener on Malaysia’s efforts to boost public transport usage in its cities.

The Thompson Reuters Foundation has released a survey ranking Kuala Lumpur as the 7th most unsafe city for women taking public transport.

They listed 16 major cities, ranking Bogota as the worst, followed by Mexico City, Lima, Delhi, Jakarta and Buenos Aires.

Kuala Lumpur came next — above Bangkok, Moscow and Manila.

Paris, Seoul, London, Beijing, Tokyo and New York were ranked between 11th and 16th, but the survey indicates that cities that came in last were much safer.

This means KL is somewhere in between being safe and unsafe.

There were six areas of concern in the survey — safety at night, verbal harassment, physical harassment, public response to abuse, confidence in authorities and safety in the city.

KL ranked 5th in terms of “safety at night”, which indicates women in the city felt unsafe while travelling at night compared with women in Manila and Jakarta.

The city took the 8th spot (mid spot) on aspects of verbal harassment by men, public aid when harassed and availability of safe public transportation in the city.

It was, however, ranked among the best when it came to experiences of physical harassment (No. 13 out of 16) with the least number of women experiencing them.

But it was the second worse in terms of confidence in authorities where very few believed authorities would investigate cases of harassment or attacks.

According to the Thompson Reuters Foundation, the survey involved questioning women in each of the 16 cities, as well as experts focused on women’s rights, gender equality, urban planning and gender-friendly urban spaces.

An online survey, involving up to 513 women from each city, made up part of the statistics.

The foundation also polled a minimum of 10 experts in each city, except in Kuala Lumpur where nine experts were interviewed.

These included women’s rights activists, architects and academics with an interest in gender equality and urban planning.

In total, 6,555 women and experts were surveyed.

Kuala Lumpur has recently seen the launch of separate buses and train carriages for female passengers to help counter sexual harassment.

Details of the survey are available on www.trust.org.

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