International Women’s Day: ‘Two thirds of UK women’ harassed
Almost two-thirds of women in the UK have had unwanted sexual attention in public places, a survey by YouGov has suggested.
Out of 889 women asked, 64% said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment, with 35% saying they had suffered “unwanted sexual touching”.
The survey was commissioned by the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
Sarah Green, the coalition’s acting director, said sexual harassment was “an everyday experience” in the UK.
The survey was published by the coalition of women’s organisations to coincide with International Women’s Day.
What is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day has been held on 8 March every year since 1913, and has been recognised by the United Nations since 1975.
The UN says it’s a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
The theme of this year’s day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030” – aiming to achieve global equality in areas such as education and end all forms of discrimination.
The survey suggested that, of those who suffered unwanted sexual attention, more than a quarter were under 16 the first time it happened, and more than 75% were under 21.
Of the 106 women aged 18-24 who were surveyed, 85% said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention in public and 45% had experienced unwanted sexual touching.
Unwanted sexual attention can include instances of wolf-whistling, sexual comments being made, staring, and indecent exposure.
‘Hold a mirror up’
The survey also suggested that 63% of women felt unsafe in public places, compared to 45% of men who were also polled.
Of the women asked, 42% said they would pay for taxis to avoid public transport on a night out, while 42% would take a different route home if it made them feel safer.
Those responding to the survey called for more police (53%), better street lighting (38%), and more staff on public transport (38%).
Ms Green said women and girls “learn to deal with” sexual harassment, but added: “It’s time to hold a mirror up to it and challenge it.
“Girls and young women are growing up in the UK today being exposed to unwanted sexual attention, harassment and assault.
“They are learning to change their behaviour so they can manage these incidents because they are so regular. We need to really question any idea that this behaviour is trivial or in any way acceptable given what we can see about its impact.”