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One third of Londoners think the streets are unsafe for women and girls

One third of Londoners think the streets are unsafe for women and girls, data has revealed.

The data, collected from an Opinium survey for global children’s charity Plan International UK also revealed that 30% of Londoners feel that their local MP is ‘not doing much, or doing nothing’ to address public sexual harassment in their local area.   

More than one-third (35%) stated that their local MP does not take the issue of public sexual harassment seriously, and more than half (51%) said that existing laws are not enough to protect women and girls from harassment. 

Opinium / Plan International UK (238 respondents)

In Greater London, two-fifths of respondents said that experiencing or worrying about public sexual harrassment has prevented them from doing certain activities – like taking their usual route home or exercising.

In a national survey 40% of all respondents said the government do not take sexual harassment seriously, including 43% of Londoners. 

Sexual harassment is set out through section 26 of the Equality Act 2010, which defines sexual harassment as “unwanted conduct specifically of a sexual nature or related to gender reassignment and has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the complainant or violating his or her dignity.”

Sally Thomas, Policy and Advocacy Manager for UK Girls’ Rights at Plan International UK said: “This is a cultural problem, and a lot of these behaviours are normalised.  

“We want to be really clear that public sexual harassment is harmful sexual behaviour that happens in a range of public places, not just on the street: it’s in the park, by the bus stop, on the journey to school.

“It includes a whole range of sexual harassment behaviours from shouting unwanted sexual comments in the street to unwanted physical contact such as touching and grabbing and it happens in a range of public places. 

“We know that this is behaviour that is relentless, it’s an everyday part of girls’ and women’s lives. We want to see a change in the law to ensure that girls are not left unprotected and to send a clear message this this behaviour is never ok.”

Plan International UK and Our Streets Now are calling for a new law to criminalise public sexual harassment through their #crimenotcompliment campaign.

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