It's something women experience all the time: men making them feel uncomfortable in public spaces.

A bold advert from Respect Victoria is condemning this behaviour as sexual harassment and encouraging Australians to act if they witness it.

The ad — part of the Respect Women: Call it Out campaign — shows a woman looking deeply awkward on a train as a man stares at her from across the carriage.

The advert shows a man staring at a female commuter across a train carriage. Photo / Respect Victoria
The advert shows a man staring at a female commuter across a train carriage. Photo / Respect Victoria

Two other passengers observe the situation, and we hear one of them mentally struggling over whether to do anything.

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"He's creepy," run the observer's thoughts. "Nah, he's all right."

His conscience pricks at him as he sees the woman looking distressed. "You can tell she's uncomfortable," he thinks.

But he brushes his concerns away: "It's not a crime to look at someone."

Finally, he makes up his mind to act. "You know it's not right," he thinks. "Do something."

Respect Victoria's adverts encourage Australians to take action when they see women being harassed. Photo / Respect Victoria
Respect Victoria's adverts encourage Australians to take action when they see women being harassed. Photo / Respect Victoria

We see him step forward and stand between the man and woman, shaking his head and embarrassing the first man into turning away.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews shared the clip on Twitter with the comment: "This video will make you uncomfortable. It should — because this is what women experience every single day.

"Together, we can change that. How? When blokes stop harassing women, and start respecting women. When blokes stop ignoring this kind of behaviour, and start calling it out."

Viewers of the ad had different responses, with one YouTube user saying it suggested there was "nothing women can do in these situations other that sit there helplessly and wait for a man to save them".

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Another said the ad was picking on "horrible men" and asked where the equivalent with the sexes reversed was. Several men said such a scenario "just doesn't happen" and "isn't real life".

But one woman pointed out: "It's actually women's lived experiences, and most of us have lost count about how many times things like that happen to us."

The campaign was created by The Shannon Company to help Australians feel comfortable to call out sexist and disrespectful behaviour that can lead to violence against women. It was launched by Victorian Government following Australia's first Royal Commission into family violence.

Eventually, he takes action, stepping between the man and the woman he's making uncomfortable and shaking his head at him. Photo / Respect Victoria
Eventually, he takes action, stepping between the man and the woman he's making uncomfortable and shaking his head at him. Photo / Respect Victoria

Previous videos have shown a man questioning a friend who harasses a female bartender, and a friend of a man abusing his partner telling them his behaviour is not OK.

The Shannon Company's managing partner and director of behaviour change Michael Daddo told news.com.au this was the third iteration of a campaign to change behaviour and end violence against women.

"We want to get men more comfortable with calling out other men, since men are the main perpetrators of family violence — to normalise the idea it's OK to intervene," he said.

"There's a genuine desire for people to do something ... we all have the opportunity to step in and put an end to violence.

"Half of the people who saw the campaign said they had done something to stop the insidious violence that women deal with every day.

"The campaign is about framing a conscious choice we all have — to do nothing and in effect condone the behaviour or do something and stop the violence against women in all its forms and stop family violence."

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault.

Where to go for help or more information:

NZ Police
Help Auckland 24/7 helpline 09 623 1700
Rape Prevention Education
Wellington Help 24/7 crisisline 04 801 6655, push 0
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz