March 11, 2021

Over 70% of British women have experienced sexual harassment in public

Over 70% of British women have experienced sexual harassment in public

Data from a YouGov survey of over 1,000 women, commissioned by UN Women UK in January 2021, also reveals that 97% of young women (aged 18–24) surveyed had experienced harassment behaviors.

Only 4% of women reported the incidents of harassment to an official organization; 45% said they didn’t believe reporting them would help change anything.

The issue is not restricted to the UK—almost 90% of women in some cities around the world feel unsafe in public spaces, while every ten minutes somewhere in the world an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence.

Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK, describes the situation as “a human rights crisis” that “needs addressing now.” 

In Joni Hersch’s article on sexual harassment in the workplace, she reminds us that “Sexual harassment includes a wide range of behaviors, from glances and rude jokes, to demeaning comments based on gender stereotypes, to sexual assault and other acts of physical violence.” She says that “[a]lthough the legal definition varies by country, it is understood to refer to unwelcome and unreasonable sex-related conduct.” 

Hersch writes that more than 75 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting workplace sexual harassment. However, she says that although sexual harassment in the workplace increases absenteeism and turnover and lowers workplace productivity and job satisfaction, “it remains pervasive and underreported, and neither legislation nor market incentives have been able to eliminate it.” 

In order to fight such harassment for women in the work environment, Hersch recommends: “Strong workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment, workplace training, and a complaints process that protects workers from retaliation.”

Read Joni Hersch’s article on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace in full here.