02 February 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reveal that 67 percent of women aged 12 to 25 have experienced sexual harassment or intimidation when out and about in the Netherlands.

Majority of young women have experienced sexual harassment

The recent news of sexual assault allegations behind the scenes at the popular Dutch entertainment show The Voice of Holland has inspired various conversations about the sexual harassment women face in their day-to-day lives, whether it be while at work or when walking the streets of any Dutch city or town.

As the Dutch government faces increasing pressure from the public to take action against sexual harassment in the workplace, a survey conducted by CBS last spring has revealed that 67 percent of young women in the Netherlands said they had experienced sexual harassment when outdoors or in public between February 2020 and April 2021.

Unwanted whistling is the most common form of sexual harassment, with around 50 percent of young women reporting this happened at least once between February 2020 and April 2021. Around 40 percent have been the target of catcalling, and 25 percent report being followed by another member of the public at least once.

Women in Dutch cities more likely to be victims of sexual harassment

Women between the ages of 18 and 21 were the most likely to experience unwanted sexual attention, while 49 percent of girls aged 12 or 13 said they were victims of sexual harassment in 2020 or 2021. Meanwhile, 33 percent of young men aged 12 to 25 had similar experiences in the same period.

Most victims, whether male or female, said they choose to ignore any comments or advances, but women were more likely to reach for a defensive weapon or contact a friend or family member in threatening situations. Young men were found more likely to laugh about the situation or address the perpetrator(s).

Unsurprisingly, women are more likely to face sexual harassment or intimidation in Dutch cities than they are in more rural municipalities. In the four biggest cities in the Netherlands – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague – 77 percent of women aged 12 to 25 reported instances of sexual harassment during the period of the study.

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