Parliamentary Inquiry Launched Into Sexual Harassment In Public Places

A new Parliamentary inquiry has been launched into sexual harassment of women and girls in public places.

MPs on the women and equalities select committee want individuals and organisations to report their experiences of unwanted attention or abuse on the street, on public transport, in shops and in bars and clubs.

It follows claims made by Westminster staff of a culture of “alcohol and power” leading to sexual assaults, harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

A national survey published by YouGov in 2016 revealed 85% of women aged 18–24 had experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places and 45% experienced unwanted sexual touching.

Reported sexual offences on trains have also more than doubled in the past five years, with 1,448 offences were reported in 2016-17, up from 650 in 2012-2013.

Labour MP Jess Phillips, who sits on the committee, told HuffPost UK: “My inbox is full of stories of women groped at work, stalked and hassled in public and of women changing their behaviour to avoid it.

“In the last month, for example, I have supported a 17-year-old girl sexually assaulted on the bus. She thought no-one would believe her or care it took a lot for her to speak up.

“This is not something that is happening somewhere else – it’s everywhere and we have to stop it.”

Committee chair and former women and equalities minister Maria Miller said: “We know that there is huge public concern about sexual harassment, particularly of women and girls, which is why we held an evidence session in December to look at women’s experiences of harassment in different places and how these experiences are linked. 

“We know that sexual harassment can be experienced by anyone, but the evidence shows that it is overwhelmingly a problem that is perpetrated by men and boys against women and girls and forms part of the wider inequalities that women and girls experience – which is why we are focusing on this.

“Women and girls are harassed on buses, trains, in the street and in bars and clubs. We are putting a spotlight on a problem that seems to be so routine in women’s lives, and yet has received very little attention in public policy.

“We want to find out why it happens, what the Government is doing to root it out, and what more can be done.”

The committee is inviting written evidence on harassment via the Commons website until March 5.  It is expected to deliver a full report on its findings in the summer.