​Three in four women experience harassment and violence in UK and global cities

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Three quarters (75%) of UK women have experienced some form of violence or harassment in cities, with this number rising in cities around the world, according to new research by ActionAid UK.

The YouGov poll of 2,500 women aged 16 and over was commissioned to mark the UK launch of the charity’s International Safe Cities for Women Day today to tackle urban violence against women and girls around the world.

The research also polled women in Brazil, India and Thailand and highlighted an increased risk for women in developing countries, with 79 percent of women in India, 86 percent of women polled in Thailand and 86 percent in Brazil had been subjected to harassment or violence in public.

On average two in five women polled in Brazil, India and Thailand (41%, 44% and 39% respectively) said they had been groped in public. This is compared to almost a quarter (23%) of UK women.

In the UK, three in seven (43%) women felt at risk of harassment on city streets (43%) while a third (36%) felt at risk travelling on public transport.

Sarah Carson, ActionAid’s Women’s Rights Campaign Manager said: “This research highlights a global epidemic - every day women around the world face groping, unwanted touching and many other forms of harassment on the streets of their cities.

“But behind every statistic, are real women. Women who have been raped in their homes in the slums of Delhi, women in Brazil who fear the drug traffickers who dominate and control their neighborhoods, and garment workers in Cambodia and Thailand who are abused and harassed in and around their workplace.

“It is appalling and unacceptable that this is happening in cities around the world. That’s why we are calling on the UK Government to play its role in funding the life changing work of women’s rights organisations in developing countries. So that no matter who she is or where she lives, no woman has to live in fear of violence or harassment in her city.”

ActionAid is campaigning for the UK government to commit to increasing the proportion of aid going directly to women’s groups working on the frontline in poor communities. Evidence has shown that the work of women’s rights organisations is the single most effective way to tackle violence against women and girls. ActionAid is calling for at least £70 million over the next three years to be committed from the existing aid budget.

Today, Thursday 19th May 2016, A-list celebrities Imelda Staunton and Jodie Whittaker attended an interactive exhibition at London’s Marble Arch ahead of ActionAid’s first ever Safe Cities for Women Day. The iconic London arch was transformed as it’s taken over by group of 30 mannequins – a third marked in red - to represent the one in three women who experience violence in their lifetimes, and the many that are subject to it on the streets of their cities.


  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,518 women, 1,013 in Britain, 503 in Brazil, 500 in Thailand, 502 in India. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd 11th May 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB women (aged 18+) in each respective country.
  2. ActionAid is calling on the public to stand with fearless women and girls to end violence by calling on the UK to fund the life changing work of women’s rights organisations around the world. People can find out more and take action at: www.actionaid.org.uk/safecitiesbecause
  3. To read more about this issue and ActionAid’s Safe Cities for Women Campaign, click here.
  4. ActionAid works with and for women and girls in some of the poorest communities in the developing world. Because we know that violence against women and girls is a global issue, including in the UK, we work in association with women’s rights organisations here such as Women’s Aid and the End Violence Against Women coalition.

Photo credit: ActionAid