In Plan International’s map of Madrid, the sad face icon that signals a bad experience for a woman is not consigned to locations with dark corners: Popular places like Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid’s main squares, are full of stories of verbal and physical harassment. A user writes about how a failed Tinder date ended with a strange stalking episode. Another user explains that a man grabbed her in the nearby station. And some users also tell anecdotes of being helped by other women.
The topic of safety in Madrid is a tricky one. The capital of Spain has a very low homicide rate: In 2017, only 16 people were murdered in this municipality of more than 3 million people, according to Spain’s Ministry of the Interior. But at a discussion on “Making Cities Safe and Inclusive with and for Adolescent Girls” at the Instituto Cervantes in New York last month, an 18-year-old Madrileña explained that if she walks by a dark corner, “I worry that someone is going to grab me or say something to me.” Her male peers don’t understand, she says: “They don’t believe that there’s a different reality for us.”