‘SHOCKING’ accounts of harassment towards women and girls in Rugby have been shared in a survey which revealed that 60 per cent of respondents have been harassed in the town in the last 12 months.
More than 700 girls and women aged 11 and older responded to Rugby Borough Council’s survey, with three in five of them saying they had experienced unwanted attention or harassment in a public place in the last year.
Some survey respondents gave detailed accounts of harassment, unwanted attention and sexual advances.
Incidents took place at all times of day, with the most incidents reported between 2-4pm. Incidents also commonly occurred during the lunchtime and tea time periods of 12noon-2pm and 6-8pm.
Half of respondents told the council they felt safe on their own in Rugby town centre. This figure rose to 85 per cent who said they felt safe in the town centre when with female friends. 57 per cent feel safe walking to and from their local shops, school or college or place of work.
The council’s regulation and safety spokesman Coun Derek Poole said: “The accounts of harassment and unwanted attention that we have been given in this survey are shocking. It is clear that women and girls in Rugby have experienced some extremely unpleasant situations, and they are being subject to harassment and attention far more than we could have imagined.
“Any incident of harassment of women and girls is unacceptable, and what is clear from these results is that what many men may consider to be ‘banter’ is considered unwanted and threatening by women and girls. Men need to hear this and understand.
“These findings need to be acted on, so this issue will be a priority for the Rugby Community Safety Partnership.”
The council will also work up a detailed action plan covering awareness, education, enforcement and relevant interventions, for further public consultation later in the year.
Coun Poole added: “Rugby’s women and girls have been brave and incredibly helpful in taking part in our survey. I want them to feel reassured that we will continue to take this seriously, so I am very keen that they help us to finalise our action plan as soon as it is ready.
“I am incredibly grateful for the time and effort that women and girls put into completing this survey, and I would also like to thank partners such as Rugby College and the Hospital of St Cross who helped to distribute it.
As well as becoming a Community Safety Partnership priority, Rugby Borough Council has already acted on some of the survey findings.
Locations highlighted as being places where women and girls feel unsafe have been passed to the council’s Community Wardens and the Rugby First Bid Rangers for increased awareness and patrols, while the findings have also informed a partnership bid for government funding.
And the council’s Regulatory Services teams have started working with commercial premises on introducing a scheme where customers can ask for assistance if they feel threatened or unsafe.
Visit www.rugby.gov.uk/harassmentsurvey for a summary of the survey findings.