Barking and Dagenham campaign calls for public street harassment to be criminalised

Ebony King

Ebony King, founder of the charity Elevate Her UK, said women and girls' boundaries should be respected. - Credit: Jon King

Campaigners are calling for public street harassment to be criminalised to help protect women and girls.

The call has been made in a video which forms part of the #ProtectHer campaign by Barking and Dagenham-based charity Elevate Her UK.

In the 10-minute recording, young women recount experiences of sexual harassment at school and in public.

On unwanted sexual behaviour, Walk It Out campaign group founder April Mehmet said: "It's not fair. It's embarrassing. It's degrading.

"It needs to be recorded as a crime. When it's recorded as a crime, females will report it."

Farron - who asked for her surname not to be used - explained how it does not matter whether sexual harassment is recent or a long time ago.

"You'll always remember it," she said.

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She claimed unwanted touching in schools has become normalised and girls did not feel confident to stand up to boys.

The government's latest strategy, aimed at ensuring women and girls are safe, was published last month.

It follows the tragic case of Sarah Everard in March, and the public debate it triggered.

Ministers are to look at how a specific offence for public sexual harassment could plug gaps in existing legislation.

Elevate Her UK founder Ebony King said many young girls do not feel comfortable confiding in parents, teachers or the police about their experiences.

A survey of 180 girls carried out by the charity found 64 per cent would not know what to do if they were being sexually harassed.

Extra female police officers, education in schools and better communication are among the solutions advanced by the campaign.

A government spokesperson said the Department for Education will be working with the Office for Students to ensure pupils feel safe and able to report sexual harassment.

As of June 30, 28.6pc of officers in the Metropolitan Police are female. In the financial year 2020/21, 53.3pc of recruits to a detective scheme and 39.7pc of trainee police and detective constables were female.

The police also targeted violence against women and girls in a London-wide operation on August 19.

Visit elevateheruk.org for more. To watch the campaign video in full, visit youtube.com/watch?v=JRsvhL7dVOk

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