Britain to scrutinise sexual harassment of women in public places

British Prime Minister Theresa May and other party leaders have agreed to introduce new safeguards for those working in parliament.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and other party leaders have agreed to introduce new safeguards for those working in parliament.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - A committee of British lawmakers will launch an inquiry on Monday (Jan 15) into the sexual harassment of women and girls in public places such as streets, public transport, shops, bars and clubs.

The cross-party Women and Equalities Committee will examine what more can be done to combat unwanted sexual attention in public spaces other than the workplace, it said.

"We are putting a spotlight on a problem that seems to be so routine in women's lives, and yet has received very little attention in public policy," said Maria Miller, committee chair, in a statement.

"We want to find out why it happens, what the government is doing to root it out, and what more can be done."

A 2016 national survey published by YouGov found that 85 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 had experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places while 45 per cent had experienced unwanted sexual touching.

The inquiry follows the emergence of widespread allegations in Britain, the United States and globally about sexual assault and harassment.

Britain's parliament was among the institutions to become embroiled in a sex scandal after abuse allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein prompted thousands of women and men to share stories about improper behaviour.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and other party leaders have agreed to introduce new safeguards for those working in parliament.

The committee will receive written evidence and later take oral submissions before compiling a report, likely in the summer.

The inquiry comes at the start of a year when Britain will mark 100 years since some women were granted the right to vote.

It wasn't until 1928 that all women gained the same voting rights as men.