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For young European women, insecurity is a huge problem. Photo credit: Lacie Slezak
Vienna

Study: Young European women massively avoid public places for fear of being sexually assaulted

An overwhelming majority of young women in Europe avoid certain places or neighbourhoods for fear of being assaulted or harassed, according to a European report published on Friday.

Published: February 25, 2021, 10:25 am

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    For fear of being physically or sexually assaulted, or of being harassed, 83 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 29 avoid being alone in certain places, or going to certain streets or neighbourhoods, or finding themselves isolated with another person, according to the study.

    The European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), based in Vienna (Austria), interviewed 35 000 people in the European Union, the United Kingdom and North Macedonia on their perception of crime, security and victims’ rights.

    “Young women in particular avoid different places out of fear for their safety. This is an important issue in terms of equality, because it shows that they cannot use public spaces in the same way as men,” said Sami Nevala, author of the report. This trend is likely to continue, especially with demographic changes.

    According to Eurostat, an average for the period 2016-2018, the highest crime rates in the EU-27 were observed in countries with large immigrant communities: Belgium (154.3), France (153.3), Spain (132.5), and Portugal (115.5), while the lowest rates were found in Estonia (17.1), Romania (16.2), Czechia (14.6), Slovenia (11.7), Cyprus (10.5), Slovakia (9.0), and Hungary (9.0).

    Since 2001, the proportion of Muslims in the Austrian population has doubled. A study by the Vienna Institute of Demography confirmed the increase in the number of Muslims in Austria. According to this, there are currently around 700 000 people who profess the Islamic faith. Since the last census in 2001, their share has doubled from four to eight percent.

    Under the title “Demography and Religion in Austria”, a team led by Anne Goujon from the Demography Institute of the Academy of Sciences analyzed the current religious composition of the Austrian population and possible future developments and made the results available as a working paper in 2017.

    Religious affiliations in Austria have changed significantly since the last census: while three quarters of all Austrians knew the Roman Catholic faith before 2001, their share has fallen to 5,16 million and thus only two thirds of the population. The strongest increase in the past 15 years was in the population without religious affiliation: in 2001 it was twelve percent, in 2016 it was 17 percent.

    The Muslim population however recorded strong growth. The study assumes four possible scenarios for the religious composition of the population in Austria. Every scenario sees a more or less strong increase in Muslims and non-denominational people – depending on immigration. The decline in the number of Catholics in Austria is also unavoidable in all models.

    One scenario (“Diversity”) takes into account the latest developments in migration, which is not only characterized by European immigration, but also by increased non-European migration from countries in the Middle East. Similar to the first scenario, one assumes a decrease in the number of Catholics to 45 percent and an increase in the number of non-denominationalists to 24 percent, while the proportion of Muslims would rise to 17 percent.

    Should migration to Austria come to a standstill, future developments would mainly be due to “religious mobility” and “fertility”. This scenario assumes that the proportion of people with no religion will rise to 28 percent by 2046. The number of Catholics would drop to less than half, while Muslims would then make up twelve percent of the population.

    The last scenario assumes strong immigration from the Middle East and Africa, which would lead to a significant increase in the proportion of Muslims to 21 percent in 2046. According to this assumption, almost one in three (30 percent) in Vienna could be Muslim. Islam would thus be the largest religion in Vienna in 30 years.

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