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This is what 84 percent of Rotterdam women experience on a regular basis

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Erasmus University conducted the first thorough research into catcalling since the 1980’s

Getting hissed at, cornered, being asked for sex or chased down the street; 84 percent of Rotterdam women experience catcalling on a regular basis. That’s what criminologists Tamar Fischer and Natascha Sprado (Erasmus University) found out when they researched the phenomenon for the municipality of Rotterdam.

Through in-depth interviews and surveys, the two researchers obtained a clear picture of the experiences of Rotterdam women with sexual harassment on the streets. 84 percent of them dealt with whistling, hissing, calling, offending, cornering, being asked for sex or being chased down the street during the last year.

Not on the professional radar

While sexual harassment happens a lot during busy barnights in the city center and wherever street life is most vivid, but the kind of intimidation that make women feel the most unsafe happens in neighborhoods or on their way to neighborhoods. Usually it concerns men who are alone and chase or touch women or look at them in intimidating ways. These kinds of harassment seem to be a lot less on the professional radar.

Women adjust their behaviour

Many women say they’re not really troubled by the men's moves, but the women who do are showing adjustment behavior: avoiding eye contact, walking past groups of men or walking in certain places at night. What’s striking, is that even the women who said they aren’t bothered unconsciously show adjustment behavior. Most women don’t report anything to the police: they feel their time and energy aren’t worth the little good it does.

Education and policy attention are key

Women don’t feel that a criminal law approach is the solution, because it doesn’t address the cause of the problem. Instead, they feel policy attention should be increased: more awareness of the phenomenon on the part of men and professionals. Education about sexual manners and respect is key: at school, on the streets and at home .

 

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