Sexual harassment of women in London at shocking levels

A shocking 43 percent of young women in London city were sexually harassed during 2011, a recent report reveals.

End Violence Against Women (EVAW) published the YouGov survey on Friday, according to which women aged between 18 and 34 were subjected to sexual harassment in public places.

The survey was conducted among women in London about their experiences of unwanted conduct or attention over the year. Unwanted sexual attention includes wolfwhistling, passing sexual comments, staring and exposure which are anything of a sexual nature.

The results show 41 percent of the women aged between 18 and 34 experienced unwanted sexual attention while 21 percent of all the women have experienced the same.

At least 4 percent of the women responded saying they have experienced unwanted sexual touching.

"Our survey shows that sexual harassment in London is extremely common. Some survey respondents also said that this behaviour makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe and makes them change their behaviour and decisions about when and where to travel.

Despite this high prevalence and impact however, public sexual harassment is a form of abuse which generally goes unchallenged, creating an unsafe and unequal environment for women," said the EVAW Coalition Co-Chair professor Liz Kelly.

Incidents in public transport are also at alarmingly high levels in London. While travelling in public transport, including tubes, 31 percent of women aged between 18 and 24 said they experienced unwanted sexual attention, whereas 14 percent of all women had undergone the same. According to the report, 5 per cent of them have actually experienced unwanted sexual touching during their travel.

Some of the respondents felt it was unsafe for women to travel in tubes especially alone. Even travelling in the upper deck of the buses seems to be unsafe since some of them experienced bitter incidents during their night travel.

"I feel safer on public transport than I do walking around, but I have still experienced several nasty incidents of sexual harassment on the tube where I have been forced to change carriage or leave the train a stop early to avoid harassment from men," said one of the respondents of the survey.

A large number of respondents said they felt unsafe to travel in London during nights. Some of them even suggested increasing the number of transport staff will improve the situation.

In 2011, 45,000 incidents of domestic violence and 3,000 rape cases were reported to the police in London alone, said EVAW.

"It is important to note that this is not a London-only problem, and a national survey needs to happen to understand the extent of the problem. We hope that London can lead the way in addressing this issue - particularly in light of the impending Olympics and international perceptions of our nation's attitude to women's safety," said the Founding Director of the UK Anti Street Harassment Campaign Vicky Simister.