Girls’ rights groups are calling for public sexual harassment to be criminalised in the UK after research suggested more than half of young women and girls were harassed on the street during the summer.
A fifth (19%) of young women and girls aged between 14 and 21 experienced being catcalled, followed, groped, flashed or upskirted during the spring lockdown, according to polling by children’s charity Plan International and campaign group Our Streets Now.
This rose to 51% during the summer as coronavirus restrictions were eased and more people returned to public life, the groups said. They are calling for all forms of public sexual harassment to be made a specific criminal offence to acknowledge it is “a crime, not a compliment”.
Plan International and Our Streets Now polled 1,000 parents of girls and women aged between 14 and 21 and 1,010 girls and women in the age group between 23 September and 1 October.
The research found that a third of parents (32%) had been told by their daughters that they had experienced harassment in public. Three-quarters of the girls and young women surveyed (76%) did not report the incident to the police.
Of the parents who took part in the study, 80% said they worried their daughters would experience public sexual harassment during their lifetime, with one in 10 believing their daughters younger than 11 years old would be targeted.
Four in 10 parents said they had asked their daughters not to go out after dark or take certain routes, while two-thirds said they had instructed them not to walk home alone after a certain time.…