Street harassment continues in spite of curfews and lockdowns

·2-min read
There may be fewer people in the streets, but harassment in public spaces has continued to be a problem during the health crisis.

Although most people have been going out less during the pandemic, the impact of the health crisis has not been enough to put an end to street harassment. A survey* conducted for this year's International Anti-Street Harassment Week has revealed that one in five women has been subject to sexual harassment in public spaces in the last year.

This year's International Anti-Street Harassment Week, which is set to end on April 17, aims to raise public awareness of an acute problem, but also to combat it with tools and training to enable people to react appropriately if they are a victim of street harassment or witness to a situation in which someone else is. It is worth noting that street harassment still takes place despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has drastically reduced the number of people in public spaces with lockdowns and curfews.

Nearly one woman in five claims to have been a victim of sexual harassment in a public space in spite of the current health crisis, reveals the new survey conducted by L'Oréal Paris in collaboration with Ipsos. While all age groups are concerned, women under 35 seem to be particularly affected by this form of harassment (one woman in three).

The health crisis has even amplified the feeling of insecurity felt by women. In the midst of the pandemic, more than four out of ten women (41%) say they feel less safe in public spaces, and 47% explain that masks, which allow people to hide their faces have contributed to their apprehension. The fact that there are fewer people in the streets and on public transport also appears to have had a negative impact on perceptions of safety among more than half of women aged under 35.

Not surprisingly then, nearly three quarters of those surveyed (71%) said they avoided certain public spaces, and more than six out of ten women (61%) report not being able to choose clothes that they might otherwise like to wear.

Training to combat harassment

In 2020, l'Oréal Paris teamed up with Hollaback! and the French Fondation des Femmes to launch the "Stand Up" program to combat street harassment. The goal of the initiative is not only to raise awareness, but also to intervene and confront harassment, notably using the "5Ds" for bystanders (Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct) when coming to the aid of victims.

Free training on what to do if you are a witness to street harassment is available from . Longer training sessions organized by the Fondation des Femmes can also be booked on .

* The international study conducted by L'Oréal Paris and Ipsos from January 25 to February 9 surveyed 14,000 participants in 14 pays.

Christelle Pellissier