Government asks women to submit accounts of sexual harassment

Posted by
Susan Devaney
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The opening of an inquiry by MPs into the sexual harassment of women and girls in UK public spaces signals that progress is being made.

From Hollywood’s Time’s Up initiative to the #MeToo movement, in recent months the silence surrounding the global mistreatment of women has been broken by sexual misconduct allegations being made in several industries across the UK and US.

Which is why MPS have launched an inquiry into the sexual harassment faced by women and girls on a daily basis in the UK.

The inquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee will focus on sexual harassment in public places such as on the street, in shopping areas, bars, clubs and public transport, in a bid to shine a “spotlight on a problem that seems to be so routine in women’s lives, and yet has received very little attention in public policy”.  

“Women and girls are harassed on buses, trains, in the street and in bars and clubs.”

“We know that sexual harassment can be experienced by anyone, but the evidence shows that it is overwhelmingly a problem that is perpetrated by men and boys against women and girls and forms part of the wider inequalities that women and girls experience - which is why we are focusing on this,” said committee chair Maria Miller in a statement.

“Women and girls are harassed on buses, trains, in the street and in bars and clubs.

“We want to find out why it happens, what the government is doing to root it out, and what more can be done.”

A YouGov survey published in 2016 revealed that 85% of women aged 18–24 had experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places, and 45% have experienced unwanted sexual touching.

Using the hashtag #StreetHarassment, the government are asking women to submit their written accounts of sexual misconduct to further help them with the investigation.

The committee is interested in how age, ethnicity, sexuality and other characteristics affect women’s experiences. They will then decide who will be invited to give oral evidence.

“No woman should have to tolerate discrimination or harassment of any sort because of her gender,” a government spokesperson told the BBC.

“We have come a long way already, effectively bringing perpetrators to justice, but will continue to work until the problem is eliminated completely.

“We are taking steps to raise more awareness around gender equality issues and address harmful behaviours.”

Online written submissions will be accepted until Monday 5 March 2018.

Images: iStock