The majority of women and girls in the UK have experienced sexual harassment in public places, according to new data from U.N. Women.
The study found that 97 percent of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces, and more than 70 percent of women of all ages have endured such behaviour.
The data was collected from a YouGov survey of over 1,000 women commissioned in January 2021 by U.N. Women UK, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality in the country. The research also showed a lack of faith in authorities, with just four percent of women telling YouGov they’d reported incidents of harassment to an official organisation, and 45 percent of women stating they didn’t believe reporting it would change anything.
The data, which forms part of U.N. Women UK’s Safe Spaces Now campaign, will be referred to the government and other public bodies in a bid to effect changes. “We’ve collected stories and ideas from over 1,000 women and girls, and now we’re taking those demands to the owners and administrators of public spaces, asking them to implement our solutions now, in time for the UK’s end to lockdown,” reads the organisation’s open letter to leaders.
“This is a human rights crisis. It’s just not enough for us to keep saying ‘this is too difficult a problem for us to solve’ – it needs addressing now,” Claire Barnett, executive director of U.N. Women UK, told the Guardian.
“We are looking at a situation where younger women are constantly modifying their behaviour in an attempt to avoid being objectified or attacked, and older women are reporting serious concerns about personal safety if they ever leave the house in the dark — even during the daytime in winter.”
The organisation added that not enough was being done by lawmakers, owners of public spaces, and people responsible for funding and decision making, and called for better designed public spaces, education, and more robust reporting systems.