Various studies show that 80 to 100 percent of women have experienced street harassment. A significant percentage of women say this regularly happens to them on public transportation.
Summaries of three of 11 recent studies include:
A 2002 survey of Beijing, China, citizens showed that 70 percent had been subjected to a form of sexual harassment. Most people said it occurred on public transportation, including 58 percent who said it occurred on the bus.[i]
During the summer of 2003, members of the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team in Chicago surveyed 168 neighborhood girls ages 13 to 19 about street harassment and interviewed 134 more in focus groups. They published their findings in a report titled “Hey Cutie, Can I Get Your Digits?” Of their respondents, 86 percent had been catcalled on the street, 36 percent said men harassed them daily, and 60 percent said they felt unsafe walking in their neighborhoods.[ii]
In Yemen, the Yemen Times conducted a survey on teasing and sexual harassment in Sana’a in 2009. Ninety percent of the 70 interviewees from Sana’a said they had been sexually harassed in public. Seventy-two percent of the women said they were called sexually-charged names while walking on the streets and 20 percent of this group said it happens on a regular basis. About 37 percent of the sample said they had experienced physical harassment. Being veiled did not seem to lessen the harassment.[iii]
We need many more studies to better track the extent of the problem of street harassment. The more we know, the more informed strategies we can use to address the root causes and work on prevention strategies.
[i] “Harassment rampant on public transportation,” Shanghi Star, 11 April 2002, http://app1.chinadaily.com.cn/star/2002/0411/cn8-4.html (15 March 2009).
[ii] Amaya N. Roberson, “Anti-Street Harassment,” Off Our Backs, May-June 2005, page 48.
[iii] “Sexual harassment deters women from outdoor activities,” Yemen Times, 21 January 2009, http://www.yementimes.com/article.shtml?i=1226&p=report&a=2 (15 March 2009).