Nearly HALF of young women have faced wolf whistles or sexual comments

Nearly HALF of young women have faced wolf whistles or sexual comments in past year – and a third believe they were followed

  • The ONS has surveyed Britons on their perceptions of safety in public places
  • Nearly half of young women have faced wolf whistles or sexual jibes in last year
  • A third believe that they have been followed and many feel unsafe walking alone 

Nearly half of young women have faced would whistles or sexual comments in the past year – and a third believe they were followed.

The grim picture emerged in the first official survey of people’s perceptions of safety in Britain. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey found 49 per cent of women and 19 per cent of men felt unsafe walking alone after nightfall in a busy public place, such as a high street or railway station.

The same proportion of women and 15 per cent of men did not feel safe walking alone after dark on a quiet street near their home.

And four out of five women and 39 per cent of men felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a park or other open space. 

The ONS found four out of five women and 39 per cent of men felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a park or other open space

The survey of 16,112 Britons aged 16 and over was run in four waves between June 2-27.

Around a third of women and 19 per cent of men had experienced at least one form of harassment in the previous 12 months. 

Some 44 per cent of women aged 16 to 34 years had experienced catcalls, whistles, unwanted sexual comments or jokes over the past 12 months, and 29 per cent felt like they were followed.

Women aged 16-34 and 75 and over were most likely to feel unsafe after dark in a public space or a quiet street near their home.

Those aged 16-34 were also most likely to have modified their behaviour as a result of feeling unsafe during the day or night. 

Disabled people felt less safe walking alone in all settings, while those who had been harassed in the last year were more likely to feel unsafe.

Nearly half of young women have faced would whistles or sexual comments in the past year – and a third believe they were followed

Some 63 per cent of people who reported feeling unsafe during the day said they had altered their behaviour in the previous month.

This was the case for 42 per cent of those who reported feeling unsafe after dark.

Actions they took included stopping leaving home alone, walking in quiet places and going to streets or areas they think are unsafe.

Nick Stripe, head of the ONS crime statistics branch, said: ‘This is the first time the ONS has asked people about feelings of personal safety when walking alone in different public settings.

‘We explored how those feelings are influenced by personal experience of harassment and if they affected behaviours.

‘There are some clear findings: men and women both feel less safe after dark, but the extent to which women feel unsafe is significantly greater.

‘Disabled people, too, are more likely to feel unsafe, even in the daytime in busy public places.’

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