To be visible at all is to be targeted: 97% of women have been sexually harassed in the UK
In the UN women's UK data, 80% of all women said they had been sexually harassed in public spaces in the UK.
Data released by the UN Women UK on the 10th of March 2021 has unveiled some worrisome stats about the United Kingdom. According to the report, 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed in the UK. Additionally, a further 96% were not reporting harassment cases because of the belief that it would not change anything.
Even the police can’t be trusted
Recently, a police officer was arrested in connection to the disappearance of Sarah Everard, a resident of the Clapham Common area of London. After this recent incident, women walking home at night are fearing the worst.
Claire Barnett, executive director of the UN Women UK, said:
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.
Worrisome harassment stats in the UK
Almost every young woman in the UK has experienced some form of sexual harassment. Sreet harassment is the unsurprising sobering part of the daily lives of the women who have grown up in the UK.
Female residents of the UK believe:
To be visible at all is to be targeted. There seems to be no choice that one can avert this kind of horrific experience. Sarah Everard was wearing bright clothes, walking on well-lit residential roads, and in communication with her partner. Still, she is nowhere to be found now.
A YouGov survey carried out by the UN Women UK found that only 4% of women report incidents of sexual harassment, while an overwhelming 96% remain dubious about the UK authorities’ capacity to handle an incident like this. Around 45% of the women who would not report sexual harassment in the UK say that it is because they believe nothing would really change.
According to researches, harassment in the UK has normalized to the extent that women who were groped, followed, and pressured into sexual activity did not find their experience to be “serious enough” to report.
In the UN women’s UK data, 80% of all women said they had been sexually harassed in public spaces in the UK. This experience of sexual harassment appears to be a universal trait of womanhood across the country.
What happens when a woman reports a harassment case?
According to research conducted by the University of Washington, authorities are more likely to file cases of “conventionally attractive” women because they are more likely to be believed. With some being perceived as more valid than others, more and more women stay quiet when dealing with sexual abuse.
Women outside of strict social norms are more likely to be perceived as unharmed by harassment, which means their reports are taken less seriously and can even impact how sex offenders are sentenced. This includes race, with white women being the expected victim of sexual harassment by a majority of the 4,000 people involved in the research. When a woman is perceived to be an unlikely victim, sentencing can be less strict for her attacker.
Senior author and UW psychology professor Cheryl Kaiser explained:
When you make a perception of harassment, you also make a connection to womanhood, but the way we understand womanhood is very narrowly defined. So for anyone who falls outside of that definition, it makes it hard to make that connection to harassment.
Street harassment of underage girls
A 14-year-old student from Essex, Anya, commented:
Since I was 11 years old I have avoided walking home alone from the bus stop, especially when coming home from school in my uniform. Along with the majority of my friends, I have experienced public sexual harassment on multiple occasions. Yet we’ve never been taught about it.
Data reveals that 72% of pupils who reported public sexual harassment described receiving a negative response from their school. The majority of the students stated that no real action was taken, while a further 47% didn’t report incidents because they were afraid of not being believed or taken seriously.
While most are silent, some women are raising their voices
A group of schoolgirls has been campaigning under the Our Streets Now organization to make street harassment illegal. The few voices that are calling out the harassers, the worrisome stats revealed by the researchers, and the involvement of a police officer in a sexual abuse incident have increased pressure on the UK government. However, only time will tell whether the authorities take any action to create functional interventions for gender-based violence within the UK.
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