A committee led by Basingstoke’s MP will open an inquiry into the ‘routine’ sexual harassment of women and girls in public places.
Maria Miller and a group of MPs will shine the light on the issue amid concern that not enough attention is paid to stopping catcalling, groping and offensive behaviour.
As chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Mrs Miller is hoping the inquiry will help find solutions to rooting out everyday harassment on public transport, in the street, and in shops and bars.
The inquiry will also examine how police, local authorities and other bodies can prevent such behaviour.
This comes after allegations of abuse and inappropriate behaviour emerged from Hollywood, Westminster and other areas of public life in the last year.
She said: “We know that sexual harassment can be experienced by anyone, but the evidence shows that it is overwhelmingly a problem that is perpetrated by men and boys against women and girls and forms part of the wider inequalities that women and girls experience, which is why we are focusing on this.”
According to a YouGov survey in 2016, around 85 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 years old have experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places, of which 45 per cent experience unwanted sexual touching,
Reported sexual offences on trains have more than doubled in the past five years to 1,448 offences in 2016-17, up from 650 in 2012-2013.
Mrs Miller added: “Women and girls are harassed on buses, trains, in the street and in bars and clubs. We are putting a spotlight on a problem that seems to be so routine in women’s lives, and yet has received very little attention in public policy.
“We want to find out why it happens, what the Government is doing to root it out, and what more can be done.”
The MP has spoken out in the past about her own experiences of sexual harassment, which she said occurred several times throughout her life.
The probe comes after women at the centre of the Westminster sexual harassment scandal said they lacked confidence that political parties would do enough to rid Parliament of abuse.
An earlier inquiry by the committee also revealed children as young as six were suffering sexual violence at school, with some forced to share classrooms with their attackers.