For more information contact Mary-Ann Stephenson of Coventry Women’s Voices on 07957 338582 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Launch event: Monday 4 March 2013, 10 am. Herbert Gallery, Jordan Well, Coventry
Nearly 40% of women who responded to a survey about sexual harassment in public spaces don’t feel safe on the streets of Coventry, according to findings published by Coventry Women’s Voices and Coventry University today.
The survey, asked women in Coventry about their experience of harassment in public places:
- 61% of women had experienced harassment in the last year. This included:
- Being groped (12%)
- Unwanted sexual comments (37%)
- Wolf whistling (32%)
- 29% of the young women (17-29) who had experienced harassment reported that they had been groped in public in the last year and 70% had received unwanted sexual comments
The on line survey was followed up by interviews – key findings are:
- Women reported harassment starting when they were in their early teens. Some were as young as ten when they were first harassed:
I am a bit wary of men in public spaces because going back to school age I was walking home with my sister and we were followed in a white van so we had to run off.
- Harassment causes women to feel unsafe in public places. Most women interviewed limited their behaviour in some way because of their fear of harassment or attack – avoiding certain areas, not going out on their own, driving rather than using public transport.
‘It’s ok for (my husband) to go out in the dark or to walk somewhere, but it’s not ok for me to do that. And it’s just normal at the moment isn’t it? And it’s not fair – it shouldn’t be like that. Why can I go outside and not feel safe?’
- 19% of women challenged the harassment when it occurred, but most did not, largely out of fear that the situation could escalate, with women who did challenge harassment reporting receiving threats of violence, further insults, and being punched or hit:
‘I usually challenge it. This has led to threats of violence, including rape, anger, scorn and increased harassment.’
- Only 4% of women reported harassment to the police. The main reason given was that they did not think they would be taken seriously or that they had reported harassment in the past and had been ignored.
Women called for a change in attitude towards harassment including education about consent in schools and ensuring that it was taken seriously by the police and judicial system.
Speaking at the launch of the report author Jane Osmond of Coventry University said:
‘Harassment – whether wolf whistling, shouted comments, or groping – has a major impact on women’s lives. Most of us alter our behaviour because of fear of harassment. And none of us know when a comment can escalate into a physical attack. Men may think ‘it’s just a bit of fun’ but for women on the receiving end it can be devastating, affecting their confidence, where they go and what they do.’
Coventry City Councillor Ann Lucas, who represents the Council on the Community Safety Partnership, said
This important report highlights the widespread problem of harassment experienced by women every day in Coventry. As a council we have an important role to play in making sure that women feel safe everywhere in the city. This involves everything from taking a firm view of developments at the planning stage through lighting and other design features to making sure that the Community Safety Partnership recognises tackling harassment as a priority.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands Yvonne Mosquito said;
As Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, women’s safety is a priority for me and it is important that everybody has the confidence to report crimes to the police in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously
*193 women responded to the survey which was jointly carried out by Coventry Women’s Voices and Coventry University. Sixteen women took part in in depth follow up interviews.
About Coventry University
The Integrated Transport & Logistics Group at Coventry University’s focus is on transport, and in this case, the use of public transport by women. Overall, the group is exploring how to use, manage and transform existing transport solutions to promote economic growth, reduce emissions and improve societal wellbeing. http://bit.ly/S7aXLs
A copy of the Key Facts can be accessed here: Key Facts V5