Woman by Tube
Some 85% of women between 18 and 24 in the UK have faced sexual harassment, often while taking public transportGetty

The vast majority of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed in public places a new survey has found, with very few people stepping in to intervene.

Commissioned by the End Violence Against Women Coalition to coincide with International Women's Day, the YouGov survey showed that 85% of women between 18 and 24 had been harassed while 64% of women of all ages had experienced harassment.

Some 45% of females aged between 18 and 24 had experienced unwanted sexual touching, with more than a quarter aged under 16 when it happened for the first time.

Only one in ten women reported that someone else had intervened when they experienced unwanted sexual touching in a public place, with eight in 10 saying they would have liked someone to have done so.

Sarah Green, Acting director at the EVAW said it was time for society to hold up a mirror to sexual harassment and challenge it.

"If women are planning their lives around not being harassed or assaulted, they are not free. Women should be free to live their lives without the threat of harassment or violence, and not having to plan and limit their choices to make sure they are safe," she said.

Charlotte Barlow, a criminologist at Birmingham City University, told Sky News that the age of females who were getting sexually harassed was getting younger.

"It should be seen as something that is more likely to happen in adulthood but it starts with young girls as well. We are encouraged to take this kind of thing as a compliment, or if we do call it out we are viewed to be a feminist killjoy or someone who can't take a joke."

Women in the survey said that there needed to be more police, better street lighting and public awareness campaigns to encourage others to intervene.

EVAW will launch a manifesto later in March on ending violence against women and girls for the London mayoral candidates ahead of the city's election in May.