Exposé: Sexual Harassment in Public

Twitter user Jackie Williams said to iCov Political News team: ‘I’m an advocate for women’s rights and often share my experience. I was sexually harassed whilst I was walking home. It was committed by a complete stranger in broad daylight. It was one of the most terrifying experiences I have overcome and now share with other brave women’.

What Jackie is referring to can be defined as harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, professional or social setting, involving unwanted sexual advances or lewd remarks.

 Following a wave of sexual harassment allegations sweeping the nation, the rise in Britain should be at the centre of public concern. Widespread coverage has shone a spotlight on the deplorable underworld in which it occurs, yet the ordeal for the everyday woman is frequently ignored.

Women like Jackie, who bravely speak out in the public domain, highlights the regularity of sexual harassment. Many of them remain in a culture of silence by a world that minimises the act of sexual harassment.

The importance of women’s safety should not be limited to the entertainment world, music industry or workplace. Inappropriate sexual behaviours must be measured in clubs, on the street and the wider public sphere. With women’s experiences regularly internalized, complaints are not often made to the police. Subsequently, there is mostly anecdotal evidence of occurrences.

iCov Political News team, have conducted a study to gauge the scope of the growing problem. The poll, conducted on Twitter has revealed that women have faced unwanted sexual harassment, specifically in public places. Further to this, the study  found that this most commonly occured between the ages of 18-24.

After experiencing sexual harassment in public, results concluded that 67% of the five women who answered the poll, have been asked the woefully insulting question, “what were you wearing”? The toxicity of this aims to criminalize the ordinary woman who is going to work, meeting friends, and carrying out the common norms of ones day to day. It decriminalizes the actions of the offenders and promotes a victimhood amongst a culture of harassment. Furthermore, a women’s body is policed by the way in which she walks, dresses and talks, used to infer that she was “asking for it”, a phrase so loosely used to defend the actions of indecent behaviour. This study has currently revealed that 11% of women said that a bystander intervened when they were harassed and unsurprisingly, 81% wished someone had. This figure is not to say that women need a man to embark on a heroic mission to save a ‘damsel in distress’, yet that as a society, we have a moral obligation to defend women who are subjected to harassment.

Although the women who speak out are highly praised for their bravery, this burden of responsibility should not be placed on their shoulders. Instead, we should deconstruct the narrative that has become so widely normalised.

Follow the movement on social media by using the hashtag, #metoo. As a symbol of unity, together we must break down the barriers of secrecy.

Written by Monifa Bobb-Simon

(512 words)

*Statistics recorded from 5 female participants.

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