According to UN Women, sexual harassment, and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces, both in urban and rural settings, are an everyday occurrence for women and girls in every country around the world. Women and girls experience and fear different forms of sexual violence in public spaces, from unwelcome sexual remarks and gestures, to rape and femicide. It happens on streets, in and around public transportation, schools, workplaces, public toilets, water and food distribution sites, and parks.
Depending on the social circumstances – where and how we live – women gather experiences of safety and danger, which are based on the everyday violence in the public sphere, negatively impacting their physical and mental well-being. A recent survey for UN Women UK found that 71% of women of all ages in the UK said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces, of which men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators. According to the OECD, violence against women (VAW) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) constitutes a pervasive issue, which culminates into high rates of femicides – or feminicides. The LAC region holds the highest rates of femicide around the world. In 2018, 3,529 women were killed across the entire region because of their gender.
In the Middle East and North Africa, 40–60 per cent of women have experienced street-based sexual harassment. Women said the harassment was mainly sexual comments, stalking or following, or staring or ogling. Liberia recorded a 50% increase in gender-based violence in the first half of this year. Between January and June, there were more than 600 reported rape cases. The number for the whole of 2018 was 803 in the West African country.
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