TWO thirds of girls and women aged 14 to 21 have been sexually harassed in public, according to a survey.
The poll by charity Plan International UK examined the exposure of young females to conduct including catcalling, groping and upskirting.
More than 1,000 girls and women were asked about their experiences in public settings, for instance when they are in the street, on transport, travelling to school or work, or in a park, bar or club.
Overall, 66% said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention or sexual or physical contact in a public place.
Where instances happened at least once a month, 38% had encountered verbal harassment such as catcalling, wolf whistling and sexual comments, while 15% reported being touched, groped or grabbed.
Nearly one in 10 (9%) had experienced upskirting at some point, the research found.
Plan International UK is calling on the Government, local councils and police to acknowledge street harassment as a form of violence against women and girls.
Tanya Barron, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We already know that women sadly experience street harassment all too often, but this survey brings to light the shocking fact that it’s regularly happening to girls as young as 14, too.
“They are being harassed while they’re out with their friends, travelling on public transport and just trying to get on with their everyday lives.
“Girls have a right to move around independently and be in public places without fear.
“They are telling us that they refuse to accept harassment as a normal part of growing up. They want to see change, and we all have a responsibility to help make that happen.”
A 19-year-old from Birmingham described how she had been asked to get in a car.
She said: “It can be scary, especially if it’s at night and someone approaches you quite a few times.
“Now my parents are more cautious about when I’ll be home and going out after dark, which affects my plans and my work if they can’t always pick me up.”
The online poll surveyed 1,004 girls and young women aged 14 to 21 in the UK.