Sexual harassment ‘part of daily life’ for young girls – study

Sexual harassment ‘part of daily life’ for young girls – study
Girls as young as seven are experiencing sexual taunts from boys, according to Girlguiding UK. The charity says sexism and harassment are becoming a part of daily life for British girls.

Sexual taunts at a young age intensify into sexual harassment during girls’ teenage years, the youth charity claims. Almost 60 percent of girls and young women aged 13 to 21 report sexual harassment at school or college.

Meanwhile, 20 percent experiencing unwanted touching, the Girls’ Attitudes survey revealed. Under UK law, “inappropriate touching and groping” constitutes sexual assault.

More than 1,400 girls and young women aged between seven and 21 across the UK were polled. The study warns that such experiences are coming to be seen as just “a normal aspect of being a girl.”

Of particular concern, more than half of the girls surveyed, aged between 11 and 16, said teachers had told them to ignore incidents of sexual harassment, or dismiss them as “banter.”

In the older age group (13 to 21), 59 percent said they had faced some form of sexual harassment. Many don’t talk about these incidents out of shame or fear of being bullied.

Of girls aged between 13 and 16, 70 percent thought those who reported incidents of sexual harassment may be bullied or teased, the research revealed.

Girl Guide Ashvini Rae, 16, told Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, she has frequently witnessed sexual harassment.

“It’s got to the stage where girls sometimes don’t feel comfortable going to school,” she told the Guardian. “Secondary and even primary school students experience it, and they might feel it’s something they have to get used to because it’s happening on a daily basis for most people.

“A boy in my class told a rape joke recently. Even though he’s a nice, sweet guy, it’s just so normal that so many people say it.”

READ MORE:120 million girls, 10% worldwide sexually abused – UNICEF report

A quarter knew someone who had experienced violence from a partner and 35 percent of those surveyed aged 11 to 21 said they knew girls their age who had controlling or bullying partners.

“Girlguiding’s latest research paints a disquieting picture of a society that too often normalizes sexual harassment,” Chief Guide Gill Slocombe told the Telegraph.

“As the leading charity for girls and young women, Girlguiding passionately believe girls should be allowed to live in a safe, fair and equal society that lets them fulfill their potential.

“We need the support of decision makers to make this a reality and make sure no girls falls victim to everyday violence and abuse.”

In addition, sexual harassment and “lad culture” are widespread on British university campuses, a study released in September showed. In a survey by the National Union of Students (NUS), more than one-third of women reported that they have suffered advances in the form of inappropriate groping and touching.

Out of 2,156 men and women surveyed, 37 percent of women and 12 percent of men said they had faced unwelcome sexual advances. Sexism, sexual harassment and assault are widespread within the university environment, the study revealed.

“These stats show that harassment is rife on campus, but we still keep hearing from universities that there is no fear, no intimidation, no problem - well this new research says otherwise,” NUS President Toni Pearce said.

“Sadly, all of these elements exist in campus life, we know because we hear it from students. Today I say to universities everywhere the pass the buck approach of, ‘Not on my Campus,’ is now completely unacceptable. They must acknowledge the problems and join us in confronting them.”