What is Street Harassment?

Street Harassment is, as defined as “any action or comment between strangers in public places that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and is motivated by gender. In countries like India and Bangladesh, it’s termed “eve teasing,” and in countries like Egypt, it’s called “public sexual harassment.” Street harassment is a human rights issue because it limits women’s ability to be in public as often or as comfortably as most men.” [1]

Street Harassment includes (but is not limited to)[2]:

  • Leers
  • Vulgar gestures
  • “Kissing noises”
  • Honks
  • Whistles
  • Non-Sexually explicit evaluative language
  • Groping
  • Flashing
  • Public masturbation
  • Stalking

Street Harassment: Some Key Statistics

Street Harassment is still an under-researched topic but the studies that have been done clearly illustrate a significant and complex problem.

  • Between 80-99 percent of women report having been targets of aggressive, unwanted attention from male strangers.[3]

The following is a breakdown of statistics by type of street harassment[4].

  • Leering

Ninety-five percent of female respondents were the targets of leering or excessive staring at least once, and more than 68 percent reported being a target 26 times or more in their life.

  • Honking and whistling

Nearly 95 percent of female respondents were honked at one or more times and 40 percent said they are honked at as frequently as monthly. Nearly 94 percent of female respondents were the targets of whistling at least once and nearly 38 percent said it occurred at least monthly.

  • Sexist comment

Over 87 percent of women said they were the targets of a sexist comment, and about 45 percent said they’ve been a target of a sexist comment in public at least 25 times in their life.

  • Making vulgar gestures

Nearly 82 percent of female respondents were the targets of a vulgar gesture at least once. About twenty percent said they had been targets at least 51 times.

  • Saying sexually explicit comments

Nearly 81 percent of female respondents were the targets of sexually explicit comments from an unknown man at least once. More than 41 percent have been the target at least 26 times in their lives.

  • Kissing noises

Just over 77 percent of women said they were the targets of kissing noises from men and 48 percent said they’ve been the targets at least 25 times in their life.

  • Following

75 percent of female respondents have been followed by an unknown stranger in public. More than 27 percent have been followed at least six times.

  • Blocking path

About 62 percent of women say a man has purposely blocked their path at least once and 23 percent said this has happened at least six times.

  • Sexual touching or grabbing

Nearly 57 percent of women reported being touched or grabbed in a sexual way by a stranger in public. About 18 percent said they have been touched sexually at least six times.

  • Masturbating

More than 37 percent of female respondents have had a stranger masturbate at or in front of them at least once in public.

  • Assaulting

About 27 percent of women report being assaulted at least once in public by a stranger.

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Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you would like to know more about Street Harassment and what you can do to help end it, go here.

Street Harassment is a major form of Violence Against Women (VAW). If you would like to learn more about VAW, go here.

 

Sources:

1. “What is Street Harassment?” , Stop Street Harassment
2. “Types of Street Harassment”, Stop Street Harassment