Sexual harassment of women and girls in public places

Scope of the inquiry

Following the emergence of widespread allegations in the UK and US about sexual assault and harassment across a wide range of sectors, the Committee held a one off evidence session on women's experiences of everyday sexism in December 2017, which led to a more broad inquiry into sexual harassment in public spaces.

Sexual harassment has different definitions but in the Equality Act 2010 it is defined as "unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment".

The Committee is not focusing on workplaces in this inquiry, although it understands that there are connections between the experiences of women and girls in different areas of life. However, a one off evidence session on sexual harassment in the workplace was held on 31st January 2018. The Committee is interested in how age, ethnicity, sexuality and other characteristics affect women's experiences.

The Committee recognises that anyone can be a perpetrator or victim of sexual harassment. In this inquiry, however, the focus is on sexual harassment of women and girls and its connections to gender inequality. We are also interested in how age, ethnicity, sexuality and other characteristics affect women's experiences. 


Oral evidence session: Wednesday 2nd May 2018


Evidence given by:

  • David Alton, Hate Crime Manager, Nottinghamshire Police
  • Marai Larasi OBE, Director, Imkaan
  • Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, Durham University

followed by:

  • Gary Barker, Chief Executive Officer, Promundo (via video link)

Questions by Philip Davies MP

Q30            Philip Davies: Can you tell us what you define as the low-level sexual harassment that is not called out but you think should be called out?

Marai Larasi: Somebody might be sitting on the tube, for example, and staring at a woman for an extended period of time. She might find that completely intimidating, but for him that might be completely normal behaviour. For me, that might not be low level in terms of an experience— it might be really problematic and harmful in terms of the woman’s experience—but it might be hugely difficult to think about as a crime.

To watch the latest evidence session in full please click here

To read the full transcript of the latest session please click here