Edition 2022

Foto omschrijving: Teenagers from different backgrounds shopping.

How many young women encounter street harassment?

In 2021, 2 in 3 young women said that they had been harassed on the street at some point in the past year, e.g. by means of wolf whistling or catcalling, sometimes by being chased or followed. Women experienced wolf whistling as least threatening, and being chased or followed as most threatening. Most women ignored the harassments on the street. Young men encountered less street intimidation: 1 in 3 young men said they had experienced this at least once.

Kunnen jonge vrouwen rustig over straat?How many young women encounter street harassment?NageflotenWolf whistling50%8%NageroepenCatcalling40%22%Nagesist of nageklaktHissing or tongue clicking36%6%AchternagelopenChasing/following24%9%AndersOther31%18%

The figures have been taken from the 2021 CBS Perceptions survey. This survey was conducted among 12 to 24‑year-olds from early February to mid-April 2021. When asked about street harassment, respondents could indicate whether they had experienced this in the past year.

Most often young women

Young women aged between 18 and 21 most often reported having been intimidated on the street: almost three quarters of them had experienced this at some point. At the same time, however, also about 70 percent of teenage girls between 14 and 18 said that they had been harassed on the street. Among men, 1 in 3 encountered street harassment in 2020/2021, teenage boys more often than young adult men.

Street harassment, 2020/'21 (% )
Geslacht en leeftijd Have encountered street harassment
Women .
Total 66.8
12-13 yrs 49.3
14-15 yrs 67.8
16-17 yrs 71.0
18-20 yrs 72.7
21-24 yrs 66.7
Men .
Total 33.4
12-13 yrs 39.5
14-15 yrs 36.8
16-17 yrs 34.9
18-20 yrs 34.0
21-24 yrs 28.4

Half of young women encounter wolf whistling

Unwanted wolf whistling was the most common form of street harassment. Half of all young women encountered wolf whistling once or more frequently in 2020/2021. Young women less frequently encountered being called after with nasty remarks or insults, or having unwanted hissing or tongue clicking, which was about 40 percent. Approximately one quarter of all young women said that they had been chased or followed at some point last year. Catcalling is the most frequently type of street harassment encountered by young men.

Being followed perceived as most threatening

Women considered unwanted wolf whistling and hissing the least harassing of the types of harassment surveyed. Some 60 percent perceived these types of street harassment to be mostly uncomfortable, 21 percent of women were not impressed at all by wolf whistling, and hissing left no impression with 15 percent of women. That said, about one third of women felt unsafe or scared when faced with wolf whistling or hissing. Catcalling has more impact: half of women became irritated or angry, and nearly half of them felt unsafe or scared. Being chased or followed was perceived as most threatening: 85 percent of the women felt unsafe or scared when this happened.

Men were less affected by street harassment. Being chased or followed had the strongest impact: 43 percent then felt unsafe or scared. Catcalling most frequently left them irritated or angry, at 39 percent.

Impact of street harassment on young women, 2020/'211) (% harassed 12 to 24-year-old women)
Vorm It does not bother me I feel uncomfortable I feel irritated or angry I feel unsafe or scared Otherwise
Wolf whistling 20.7 60.8 31.9 32.7 2.7
Hissing or tongue clicking 14.9 58.6 41.4 35.8 1.6
Catcalling 12.6 45.2 51.2 45.7 3.8
Chasing/following 3.3 31.5 22.1 85.4 2.0
1)Multiple answers possible.

More than 1 in 3 women look to find or call someone

Among 12 to 24‑year-olds, 60 percent ignored the harassment on the street. Women did so more frequently than men, 64 percent versus 51 percent. Men laughed at it, made dismissive gestures or addressed the offenders (17 to 19 percent).

Response to street harassment, 2020/'211) (% harassed 12 to 24-year-olds)
Geslacht I ignore it I laugh at it I react dismissively or angrily I address the offender(s) I look for or call other people I report it to the police I take my defence weapon Otherwise
Women 64.2 11.1 25.5 13.1 37.2 2.0 17.6 3.4
Men 50.8 19.2 16.8 17.9 8.9 2.4 7.2 5.9
1) Multiple answers possible.

The questions


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