Street harassment still needs increased consideration

Illustratie: Karin ter Laak

According to the report ‘Sexual Street Harassment in Rotterdam 2016-2020’ by Tamar Fischer, associate professor of Criminology, and Gabry Vanderveen assistant professor of Criminology at Erasmus School of Law, 47% of all women from Rotterdam still have to deal with sexual street harassment. Intensive training of enforcement professionals has led to positive change, but most women remain uncomfortable with being out on the streets at night or consciously choose to dress differently.  

The report shows that the level of harassing behaviour is very similar to the levels found in research from 2016. However, much has changed in the awareness of sexual street harassment. Society clearly disapproves of street harassment. A positive change is also found in the attitude of enforcement professionals and security officers in the private sector.

The report calls for a focus on prevention. Youth workers indicate that the youth will only adjust their behaviour if they become aware of how women experience sexual harassment. It is important to discuss the highly intimidating experience of sexual harassment for girls and women. According to Fischer and Vanderveen, this should play a more prominent role in the upbringing and education of the youth.

Campaign awareness
The public campaign ‘Pikpraat van de straat’ (2017-2018) was noticed by a third of the respondents in this research. Women indicate that they experienced the campaign as great support and positive development but that it did not result in increased willingness to report harassment. The noticeability of the ‘StopApp’ was found to be limited. Women want to gain insight into the effect of reports in order to see a more ‘usable action perspective’ in the app.

The municipality encourages women to report sexual street harassment. In order to increase the willingness to report the harassment, they will elucidate what happens with the reports made in the StopApp and share success stories about previous reports.

Alderman Bert Wijbenga states, “it is important that sexual street harassment receives more attention, and it should be punishable. In Rotterdam, we have been investing heavily in raising standards, prevention and handling of this problem for years. We are in the process of establishing a legal basis for this in The Hague, which will help greatly in enforcement. Everyone should feel safe in Rotterdam, even in the evening and at night.”

Download the report

Seksuele straatintimidatie in Rotterdam 2016-2020. Ervaringen Aanpak en Ontwikkelingen’ by Tamar Fischer en Gabry Vanderveen, with cooperation of Dominique De Hon, Ivana Mazurel & Lotte Servaas,
Department of Criminology, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University, April 2021 (in Dutch).

This research was executed on behalf of the Safety Department of the municipality of Rotterdam in collaboration with ‘Kenniswerkplaats Leefbare Wijken’.

Press release adopted from the municipality of Rotterdam

dr. Tamar Fischer
dr. Gabry Vanderveen
More information

 Marjolein Kooistra, press officer ESSB, 010 408 2135, 

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