A survey by UK based charity ActionAid has found that girls in Kenya were the most likely to face sexual harassment with 74 per cent saying they had been exposed to it in the last six months.
The findings illustrate how sexual harassment is a global phenomenon, blighting the daily lives of young women and girls with nearly three quarters of the young people of both sexes surveyed reporting witnessing negative or offensive attitudes towards women in the last six months. 65 per cent of girls said they had been sexually harassed the same period.
Examples highlighted by survey respondents included wolf whistling, catcalling (making comments of a sexual nature), negative comments about girls’ appearance, sexual jokes, sharing explicit photos online, sexting, groping, upskirting – the practice of taking a photograph up a skirt which has recently been outlawed in the UK – and being forced to kiss someone.
The survey also found that more than one in ten (12 per cent) of even the youngest girls interviewed in the UK (aged 14 to 16) said they worried about being sexually harassed every day.
Almost two thirds of 14-16-year-old girls and boys in the UK said they had witnessed misogynistic behaviour, such as negative comments about women’s appearance or sexual jokes about girls from those around them – including from family members and friends to strangers or teachers.
Girish Menon, ActionAid Chief Executive said: “This research shines a worrying spotlight on how many young people witness or experience sexual discrimination and harassment. We know from experience that misogyny is not trivial. It happens because of deep-rooted beliefs that see women and girls as worth less, that their bodies exist to exploit, and control.
“In the countries where ActionAid works, we support local women’s groups who work with entire communities to challenge these societal norms and educate women and girls about their rights. But in order to make real progress, we need a uniformed, properly resourced approach to tackle the unbalanced power relations that prioritise male privilege and perpetuate gender inequality. We want women and girls globally to be empowered to say ‘My Body Is Mine’.”