A third of girls in the UK have been sexually harassed in public while wearing a school uniform, a report by a children’s charity has found.
The unwanted attention included groping, staring, catcalling and wolf-whistling at girls who were in their school uniform, according to a survey by Plan International UK.
The girls felt that the uniform made them a target, and they described feeling “sexualized and fetishized” by older men. One in eight said they first experienced sexual attention in public when they were only 12, and sometimes as young as 8.
The report features accounts from several young women who described how men would try to take pictures up their skirt, or grope them on public transport.
“I was in my school uniform, my primary school uniform actually, and this guy honked at me, and I wouldn’t turn around, and he kept honking, so he egged me [on],” 20-year-old Zanele from Manchester told researchers.
“I’m not allowed to go out in my uniform any more. My mum says I look older than I am,” 14-year-old Nyasha from Belfast said.
One in seven girls had been followed while in their school uniform, while 8% said a stranger took a picture of them without their permission, the research found.
The report, which surveyed 1,004 girls and women from the ages of 14 to 21 in the UK, also found that two-thirds of them experienced sexual attention or physical contact in a public space.