Sexual harassment in public has become ‘relentless’, MPs warn
A group of MPs has warned sexual harassment of women and girls in public places has become ‘relentless’ and must stop.
A report published today by the Women and Equalities Parliamentary Select Committee warns that harassment on the street, and in bars, buses and trains is ‘deeply ingrained in our culture’ and its damage is ‘far reaching’.
“Sexual harassment is never acceptable, and women and girls should not be expected to endure it,” the report states.
“It should matter to us that women and girls are respected, not forced to change the way they live to avoid daily sexual harassment and abuse.”
The report adds the Government has failed to address the issue and calls on ministers to make all public places safe again for women.
In particular, it calls call on ministers to launch a long-term public campaign to tackle the attitudes that underpin sexual harassment.
It also calls for a new law, which would criminalise the creation of non-consensual sexual images.
The report also recommends train operators be required through franchise agreements to have a robust policy on preventing and tackling sexual harassment and to block access to pornography.
In addition, it argues that bus regulations should be amended to prohibit sexual harassment and viewing pornography on buses.
And it says local authorities must consult local women’s groups and sexual violence specialists when deciding their policies on licensing strip clubs and lap-dancing clubs.
“Sexual harassment in public places is a regular experience for many women and girls in the street, in bars and clubs, on buses and trains, at university and online,” said Committee Chair, Maria Miller.
“It is the most common form of violence against women and girls and the damage is far-reaching. And yet most of it goes unreported.
“It can make women and girls scared and stressed, avoid certain routes home at night or certain train carriages, wear headphones while out running; women feel the onus is put on them to avoid ‘risky’ situations,” added Ms Miller.
“It is not acceptable that women have to change their behaviour to avoid sexual harassment. It has a wider effect on society, contributing to a culture in which sexual violence can be normalised or excused. All of this keeps women and girls unequal.”
The report’s conclusions and recommendations are available to read online.
In July, MPs called for action to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, while The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) promised to act over high levels of sexual harassment among staff, back in August.
Earlier this month, a report warned that bullying and sexual harassment in the House of Commons has ‘been known about and tolerated for far too long’.
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