Drunken sexual harassment isn't normal, nor should it be tolerated

Sexual harassment is something that, on the surface, seems to have become normalised in modern society, despite the damaging effect it can have on people.

 

Elaine Hindal, CEO Drinkaware

It’s a real issue that could affect anyone, and is part and parcel of what many women have come to expect in public places. So I was honoured to be involved in shaping the debate and highlighting some options to improve the situation as part of my evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee earlier this week.   

Drinkaware’s research[1], reveals the extent of drunken sexual harassment in a range of public places with nearly two thirds (63%) of women and a quarter of men (26%) who drink in bars, clubs and pubs saying that they had been on the receiving end of some form of sexual harassment.  

That’s a shocking statistic and being drunk is no excuse. Not to mention that sexual harassment is against the law.   

And that’s why we’ve been running ‘It’s OK to Ask’, a behaviour change programme encouraging bystanders safely to intervene when spotting individuals in need on a night out and giving them advice and help to do so.

 

 'It's OK to Ask' campaign

The advice, developed in collaboration with the Good Night Out campaign and Dr Rachel Fenton, project lead for 'The Intervention Initiative' at the University of Exeter, is designed to help people feel safer and more secure when intervening. The advice can be found here

The campaign launched last year – you may have seen some of the coverage in the Metro and on the BBC.

Now Drinkaware is expanding the campaign into festivals given the marked differences in behaviour at music festivals compared to pubs, bars or clubs.

We found that whilst 52% of women and 42% of men who attend festivals reported witnessing inappropriate or sexual comments or touching at a festival, only 31% of witnesses asked the victim if they were OK compared to 47% who did so when in a pub, club or bar.[2] 

As we have learned from the #MeToo campaign, we all have a responsibility to tackle the status quo and there is much more work to be done to stop alcohol fuelled sexual harassment. No one, whether they be a customer, colleague, family member or friend, should be having to deal with unwanted sexual advances, harassment or intimidation and something as simple as asking someone how they are can make all the difference.

References

[1] Between 23rd June and 3rd July 2017, YouGov conducted a quota survey of 2,013 UK adults aged 18-24 through their online panel. Quotas were set based on the known population profile of adults aged 18-24, and the final data was weighted to reflect this profile.

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