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Women Are Sharing Their Experiences Of Street Harassment In Hot Weather

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Women Are Sharing Their Experiences Of Street Harassment In Hot Weather

Ever since the July heatwave begun, my day-to-day attire has essentially consisted of as little as I can possibly get away with, in a desperate bid not to melt into a pool of my own sweat.

But the sad truth is, wearing summer clothes seems to come go hand-in-hand with the tragic inevitability of harassment for women.

Only last week I left the house in a bodycon dress and couldn't make it five minutes down the road without a car horn beeping at me, and a lewd comment being shouted out of the window.

In that moment, I became all too aware of my body, the fact my legs were out and my neckline was low. For a brief second, that car horn made me feel shame for stepping out in a perfectly normal summer outfit.

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I'm far from alone. Just a scroll through Twitter demonstrates how much fear we hold when it comes to summer dressing.

Our clothes shouldn't be an invite for harassment (Credit: Shutterstock)
Our clothes shouldn't be an invite for harassment (Credit: Shutterstock)

As the heatwave struck, one woman wrote: "Having to wear a big jumper in this hot weather when walking to/from the gym because some men think beeping their cars or shouting (catcalling) at you is a form of compliment".

As another penned: "Getting leered at by old men because I'm dressed for a heatwave... hot weather just isn't safe for women".

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"It’s HOT let me dress for the weather without ending up having to endure abject torture from men for daring to exist outside in the summer,"chimed in a third frustrated individual.

Activists Our Streets Now - who are calling for an end to street harassment - have shared some more of the vile encounters that victims have sent to them in the summer months, and they're a sobering read, to say the least.


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One person told them: "I was walking home from the gym in shorts, and this guy on a skateboard thought it would be funny to slap my arse and had the cheek to look back and wink at me".

Another wrote: "It was the first warm day and I decided to wear shorts... that was his invitation to yell 'hot damn baby'".

"Every summer I'm in a vest and shorts and every year the hollering picks up," reflected another. "I don't control the temperature and I need to keep cool. Grinds my gears that guys think it's a license to yell out of their vans at me".

Speaking to Tyla,  Farah Benis, founder of Instagram account 'Catcalls of London' said it's not just an anecdotal issue, either.

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Day in, day out, women report times they have been catcalled to Farah on her Instagram, and during the summer months she has seen a 200 per cent increase in submissions where harassers have commented on women's clothing choices.

In an Instagram poll she shared with her 12,100 followers, asking "Sun is out, anyone else been harassed today?", a depressing 275 out of 519 responded that they had been - that's over 52 per cent from one sunny day.

Analysis of the comments women had received was also revealing. It showed that men often used the clothes people were wearing as an excuse for sexual comments, or thought they were somehow asking for it because they had skin on show.

The most heartbreaking thing is that the majority of these people said they were too scared to say anything back to the perpetrators, let alone take any action.

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Women have long been campaigning to feel safe walking the streets (Credit: Shutterstock)
Women have long been campaigning to feel safe walking the streets (Credit: Shutterstock)

Farah said: "Time and time again we've seen that women will be harassed whatever they wear. But we also know that street harassment increases exponentially when the sun is out and we wear weather appropriate clothing.

"All too often we are told 'well you shouldn't have worn THAT outfit'. Everyone deserves to feel safe in public spaces, and we should never have to second guess our clothing choices.

"It's long past the time for blaming women, and time to start holding men accountable for their inability to control themselves."

And Maya Tutton, 22, from Our Streets now agrees: "Public sexual harassment is unacceptable whatever the weather. But the fact that women, girls and people of marginalised genders can’t enjoy the good weather because of the fear harassment induces is unacceptable."

Maya and her team have been campaigning to make street harassment illegal for years, creating a petition which has amassed a huge amount of support, pushing MPs and spotlighting women's stories across the country.

The government's Violence Against Women And Girls Strategy, which was released on Wednesday 22nd July, considered much of the evidence Catcalls of London have uncovered, and suggestions for positive change that they - and other grassroots groups - brought to the table.


The strategy comes after the tragic death of 33-year-old Londoner, Sarah Everard, who was murdered by policeman Wayne Couzens while walking the streets alone back in March.

Two weeks after her death, there was a public consultation which took in evidence from 180,000 people, and directly addressed women's safety.

The government has now laid out some really promising changes, like a “safety of women at night” fund and a new national police chief, who will be in charge of tackling violence against women and girls.

Other offerings from the government include reassessing street design features so that women are safer, a 24/7 rape and sexual assault helpline and a pilot of an online tool called StreetSafe, where people will be able to highlight areas they feel vulnerable.

Plus, they confirmed that schools will be reviewing education guidelines to help stop street harassment at its cause.

While Priti Patel has confirmed the strategy doesn't include any new laws on street harassment, she has promised the government is “looking carefully at where there may be gaps in existing law" - many of which were also pointed out by Maya and her team.

In a statement after the strategy was announced, Our Streets Now said: "We had three key asks from the government strategy. The first was to introduce a specific criminal offence addressing public sexual harassment.

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"Having feared the worse yesterday after reports that government would be shelving these plans, today we woke up to the news that the Home Office have committed to looking at legal gaps we’ve identified. We are disappointed to see this isn’t yet a full commitment, but we will continue to campaign until it becomes one. 

"Our second ask was for public street harassment to be properly and effectively taught in our schools.

"We welcome the announcement that the Department Of Education will be reviewing existing guidance on the sex education curriculum.

"Our surveys have found that 64 per cent of pupils have never been taught about PSH in school, despite the fact that two thirds of schoolgirls have been harassed in public. 

"Thirdly, we called for a well-funded awareness campaign to change public attitudes to PSH. On, this, we have a win. The Home Office has committed a multi-million pound public behaviour campaign to challenge unacceptable behaviours.

"Recognising and treating public sexual harassment as a public health emergency is crucial to eradicating those behaviours. We look forward to seeing this campaign develop and hope it will be the first of many awareness campaigns."

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Life, Real Life, Weather

Joanna Freedman
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