At the end of October I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Singapore for work. I was very excited because it had been 9 years since I was in Asia for the first time. One of the things I missed from Japan was the feeling of being safe. I was a high school student back then, and I remember walking the streets of Fukuoka late at night and not worrying about being followed or stalked on. Taking public transportation without worrying of being harassed or touched.
I’m not saying this things don’t happen, in 2004 in Tokyo alone there were 2,000 reported groping cases. But it’s not as bad as in other countries. In this study conducted by YouGov, it states Mexico is the least safe country for women in public transport among with Delhi, Bogota, Lima, and Jakarta. We are talking just about harassment, but to put you into context in Mexico a woman gets killed every 3 hours, based on the 15,973 murders that happened in the first half of 2018. This is the highest record since 1997.
And I have some very brave friends that don’t let the numbers scare them. They go out with crop tops, short skirts, take public transport and defy every stupid person that tries to harass them. But the numbers do scare me, and I’ve been missing out on some freedom because of it. It’s not a choice I take willingly. It’s a forced choice, because I don’t want to become part of another statistic. So I take extra precaution to simulate a feeling of safety when I’m in Mexico. I carry a pepper spray with me all the time, I practice martial arts, I always let my close circle of friends know where I am, where I’m going and with whom. I stopped using Uber after the rape and murder scandal that blew last year with Cabify. I now hire a family friend to be my private driver when I move around Guadalajara. When I’m in my home town, at night I ask my friends for rides. When I’m driving I have to park close to where I’m going to lessen the chances of being mobbed, and always park on a lighted area. I constantly check my surroundings and make sure I’m not being followed. Doing all of this is mentally exhausting.
A study says that 94 per cent of adults in Singapore feel safe walking alone at night.
I didn’t notice the weight off my shoulders right away. It took me 3 commutes from the office to my place to have the Ah-ha! moment. I could move alone at night on public transportation and nothing was going to happen. Singapore has been for 5 years in a row ranked the world safest city according to the 2018 Global Law and Order Report. I could use headphones, listen to my music, mind my own damn business without having to worry about others.
And again, I know this isn’t paradise. In 2015 there were 272 cases of sexual crimes in Singapore and there is a problem with work harassment, click here to read more. But what I’m looking at is a very significant improvement compared to Mexico. While in my country we are still fighting for others not to murder us, here in Singapore the fight is for more respect, more consent and more freedom. We are still fighting to even get those on a daily basis for every girl and woman in Mexico. So I’m not going to minimize the amazing feeling I get when I don’t have to look over my shoulder every 3 minutes.
Just being here for two weeks has lowered my anxiety levels. I’m a usually a happy person, but these days I realize that nothing can bring me down. This feeling of freedom has been liberating in ways I didn’t knew I needed them. I will miss this so much when I go back to Mexico. But that’s the reality I live in. How is it in your country? How safe do you feel on the streets? Meet me in the comments to share our experiences, or share what precautions you take.
To learn more about how Singapore is fighting sexual violence visit AWARE.