Polling in Great Britain, India, Brazil and Thailand revealed:
- Three quarters (73%) of women surveyed in these countries have experienced some form of harassment within the last month.
- Almost half (43%) of women in Great Britain and around the world experienced harassment at the age of 18 or younger. And over one in 10 (11%) experience harassment before the age of 10.
- Over eight in 10 women surveyed around the world (83%) take steps specifically to guard themselves against the threat of harassment.
More than half of British women (57%) have experienced some form of harassment in the past month, according to new research by ActionAid UK.
This figure is even higher in the other countries surveyed and highlighted an increased risk for women in developing countries, with 73 percent of women in India, 76 percent of women polled in Thailand and 87 percent in Brazil having been subjected to harassment in the past month.
The YouGov poll of 2,200 women around the world aged 18 and over was commissioned to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Just under one in six (16%) British women say they have been groped in the past month. This compared with one in five women in Brazil (20%), and just over a quarter of women in Thailand (26%) and India (26%).
Thirteen percent of British women report having been followed in the last month, 31 percent say they have experienced sexual comments and 10 percent say someone has exposed themselves to them.
The poll also revealed women experience harassment for the first time at a shockingly young age with more than one in 10 British (12%) women experiencing harassment before the age of 10 and nearly half (43%) aged 18 or younger. For harassment under the age of 10 the figure rises to nearly 1 in 6 in Brazil (16%). This figure is lower in the other countries surveyed with less than 1 in 10 in Thailand (8%) and India (6%).
The findings also show how common it is for women to take steps in their everyday lives to guard against the threat of harassment and violence. More than 8 in 10 women (83%) in the countries surveyed take steps to guard themselves against harassment. Three quarters (71%) of British women have done something to guard themselves against the threat of harassment. This figure rises to nearly 9 in 10 (88%) for younger British women aged 18-24. Steps used by British women range from avoiding parks and poorly lit areas (56%) and changing a travel route (25%) to preparing to use an everyday object like keys as a weapon (28%) or carrying a protective device such as a rape alarm or pepper spray (12%).
The figure is even higher in other countries with 93% of Thai, 86% of Brazilian and 82% of Indian women polled taking steps to guard against harassment. 29% of Thai women said they were prepared to use an everyday object as a weapon; 17% of Brazilian women said they avoided public transport and 18% of Indian women said they carried a protective device such as a rape alarm or pepper spray.
ActionAid is campaigning for the UK government to commit to increasing the proportion of aid going directly to critically underfunded grassroots women’s groups working on the frontline in developing countries. 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 asking the government to use money from the UK aid budget to support this life-changing work. These groups make a huge difference on tiny budgets – a small amount of money could be a lifeline for them.
Sarah Carson, ActionAid’s Women’s Rights Campaign Manager said: “Violence and harassment is a global epidemic which is stripping women of their rights and making them fear for their safety. It’s truly shocking that so many women have faced harassment or violence in the last month and that very young girls are threatened with harassment on a daily basis.
“But behind every statistic are real women. Women who face sexual harassment on the streets of Delhi, women in Brazil who fear being abused by walking in streets at night, and Thai women who are abused and harassed on public transport.
“It is appalling and unacceptable that women around the world face harassment and violence. That’s why we are calling on the UK government to play its part in funding the life changing work of grassroots women’s rights organisations in developing countries, who make a huge difference on a shoestring budget. Just a small amount of money could be a lifeline for women around the world. No matter who she is or where she lives, no woman should have to live in fear of violence or harassment.”
For more information and the complete set of statistics please contact Juan Leahy on: Mob: +44 (0)7834 216 458. Email: Juan.Leahy@actionaid.org
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,236 women, 1,038 in Britain, 502 in Brazil, 496 in Thailand, 200 in India. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1-14 November. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all women (aged 18+) in Great Britain, all women online in Thailand and all women in the urban population of Brazil and India..
- 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. You can find out more and take action here.
- Read more about this issue and ActionAid’s Fearless campaign here.
- 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, where we work in association with women’s rights organisations here such as Women’s Aid and the End Violence Against Women coalition.
- 71% of GB women have done something to guard themselves against the threat of harassment, 88% of women aged 18-24 have done this.
- More than 1 in 10 (12%) GB women first experienced some form of harassment under the age of 10.
- 57% of GB women have experienced some form of harassment in the last month.
- 93% of Thai women surveyed have done something to guard themselves against the threat of harassment.
- 8% of Thai women first experienced some form of harassment under the age of 10.
- 76% of Thai women have experienced some form of harassment in the last month.
- 86% of Brazilian women surveyed have done something to guard against harassment. 93% of 18-24 year olds have done this.
- 16% of Brazilian women first experienced some form of harassment under the age of 10.
- 87% of Brazilian women have experienced some form of harassment in the last month.
- 82% of Indian women surveyed have done something to guard against harassment.
- 6% of Indian women first experienced some form of harassment under the age of 10.
- 73% of Indian women have experienced some form of harassment in the last month.