Shocking findings of a survey on women’s safety conducted in the United Kingdom found that almost every young woman in the UK has been sexually harassed or molested. The survey conducted by UN Women UK found that in the age group of 18-24 years, 97 per cent of women said that they had faced sexual harassment. As many as 80 per cent of women across all ages said they had been sexually harassed in public places. While younger women faced sexual harassment and objectification on a regular basis, even older respondents of the survey claimed they felt scared to venture out after dark or even during the day in winter for fear of being harassed.
According to a report in The Guardian, the YouGov survey recorded the experiences of 1,000 women. The findings not only reveal the grave sexual harassment statistics of British women but also the growing disenchantment and loss of faith in the justice system.
The survey revealed that 96 percent of the respondents did not report the incidents to authorities among whom 45 percent said felt reporting it would make no difference.
Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK called the situation 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,” The Guardian reported her as saying.
“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 YouGov survey of more than 1,000 women, seen exclusively by the Guardian, exposes a damning lack of faith in the UK authorities’ desire and ability to deal with sexual harassment – 96% of respondents did not report incidents, with 45% saying it would not change anything. Among those who said the event was not serious enough to report were women who had been groped, followed, and coerced into sexual activity, said UN Women UK.
Many of the women who did not report incidents of sexual harassment said they didn’t do so because they did not consider the incidents serious enough. These included women who had faced groping, women who had been stalked or followed or forced to consent to sexual relations.
Barnett said that “younger women are constantly modifying their behaviour in an attempt to avoid being objectified or attacked”.
The report highlights the reportedly high degree of underreported gender-based violence faced by women in the UK, both at home and in public, despite being considered a “progressive” nation in terms of gender rights and equality. This is not the first survey, however, to highlight the underreporting of sexual harassment by women.
A 2019 survey found that despite the Me Too movement in the UK, a quarter of young women in England and Wales would be reluctant to report workplace sexual harassment due to fears they might be fired as a result. The findings revealed that even after two years of the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and misconduct swept social media worldwide, women still feared they will pay their price for harassment instead of their abusers, said the Young Women’s Trust which commissioned the research.