'Harrowing' study finds two in three young women were harassed in last year

24 November 2021, 15:48

A "harrowing" study by the ONS has revealed the extent of harassment.
A "harrowing" study by the ONS has revealed the extent of harassment. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A "harrowing" new study has found that two in three women aged 16-24 suffered some form of harassment in the last year.

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The first comprehensive study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) comes in the wake of increased reports of violence against women and girls in the UK.

It has become an issue of even greater public interest following several high-profile cases, including the tragic murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, and sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, all of whom were killed in London.

The ONS' study showed that in the year up to March 2020, 81 women were killed in domestic homicides.

It also showed more than five million women aged 18 to 74 were victims of some form of abuse as a child.

The shocking findings were part of the ONS' first comprehensive statistical analysis of the lasting impact of violence against women and girls.

Dr Hannah Dennis, a clinical psychologist at HRD Consultancy, said the ONS' report makes for "extremely harrowing reading".

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Sarah Everard was killed by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens.
Sarah Everard was killed by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens. Picture: Alamy

She said as a society we all need to work together to highlight the long-lasting effects of trauma on the women and girls affected, and also on any children who are living in domestically abusive homes.

Police recorded 845,734 domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales in the year ending March 2021 - a 6% increase on the figure for the previous year.

The ONS says the increase “may reflect improvements seen in reporting over the last few years”.

Separately, the ONS crime survey measured people's experience of crime rather than crimes officially recorded by police.

It estimates that 1.6 million adult women experienced domestic abuse in the year to March 2020. That's around 7% of the female population.

The crime survey also estimated that 3% of women aged 16 to 74 years in England and Wales experienced sexual assault (including attempts) and 5% experienced stalking. These trends have remained similar over the last 10 years.

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"Long-term effects of trauma are far-ranging and can affect future relationships, long-term mental health, academic attainment, career progression and overall self-esteem," said Dr Dennis.

"Schools, employers and statutory organisations need to become more aware of the effects of trauma, gain the skills needed to spot its signs and ensure they are able to signpost people to the appropriate support services."