Street harassment is an under-researched topic, but each existing study shows that street harassment is a significant and prevalent problem. The following statistics focus on prevalence.
Informal Online Studies by Stop Street Harassment:
To learn more about women’s harassment experiences, the Stop Street Harassment founder conducted two informal, anonymous online surveys about street harassment: one in 2007 for her master’s thesis at George Washington University and one in 2008 as preliminary research for a book. Between both surveys, there were 1,141 respondents. Similar to the other studies conducted on street harassment, nearly every female respondent had experienced street harassment at least once.
In the first online survey, conducted during the spring of 2007, she asked the 225 respondents:
“Have you ever been harassed (such as verbal comments, honking, whistling, kissing noises, leering/staring, groping, stalking, attempted or achieved assault, etc) while in a public place like the street, on public transportation, or in a store?”
Ninety-nine percent of the respondents, which included some men, said they had been harassed at least a few times. Over 65 percent said they were harassed on at least a monthly basis.
For the second online survey, conducted across a month in fall 2008, there were 811 female respondents (916 total).
Over 99 percent of the female respondents said they had experienced some form of street harassment (only three women said they had not). In one question they could indicate the types of interactions they have had with strangers in public, here is a sampling of their responses.
Ninety-five percent of female respondents were the target of leering or excessive staring at least once, and more than 68 percent reported being a target 26 times or more in their life.
Honking and whistling
Nearly 95 percent of female respondents were honked at one or more times and 40 percent said they are honked at as frequently as monthly. Nearly 94 percent of female respondents were the target of whistling at least once and nearly 38 percent said it occurred at least monthly.
Over 87 percent of women said they were the target of a sexist comment, and about 45 percent said they’ve been a target of a sexist comment in public at least 25 times in their life.
Making vulgar gestures
Nearly 82 percent of female respondents were the target of a vulgar gesture at least once. About twenty percent said they had been a target at least 51 times.
Saying sexually explicit comments
Nearly 81 percent of female respondents were the target of sexually explicit comments from an unknown man at least once. More than 41 percent have been the target at least 26 times in their lives.
Just over 77 percent of women said they were the target of kissing noises from men and 48 percent said they’ve been the target at least 25 times in their life.
Seventy-five percent of female respondents have been followed by an unknown stranger in public. More than 27 percent have been followed at least six times.
About 62 percent of women say a man has purposely blocked their path at least once and 23 percent said this has happened at least six times.
Sexual touching or grabbing
Nearly 57 percent of women reported being touched or grabbed in a sexual way by a stranger in public. About 18 percent said they have been touched sexually at least six times.
More than 37 percent of female respondents have had a stranger masturbate at or in front of them at least once in public.
About 27 percent of women report being assaulted at least once in public by a stranger.