MP Layla Moran has said society needs to "stop turning a blind eye" to sexual harassment, after new data revealed that 66 per cent of girls and young women aged 14-21 have experienced public sexual harassment.

In Ms Moran's constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon alone, 2,559 under 21's experienced sexual harassment publicly between June and September 2020, according to research by children's charity Plan International UK.

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The data was released as part of the global charity's new campaign, ‘Crime Not Compliment’, which is aiming to crack down on sexual harassment.

The campaign is being run in partnership with Our Streets Now - another charity which works to make young women feel safe in public spaces.

The campaign aim is calling for a change in the law to make public sexual harassment a ‘specific, unambiguous stand-alone criminal offence’.

The report also showed that 76 per cent who have experienced harassment in their lifetime have never reported it to the police.

It found that 57 per cent of young women said they would not know where to report street harassment if it did happen to them.

Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, expressed "alarm" over the charity's research, and called for people to support the Crime Not Compliment campaign.

She also urged other MPs and members of her constituency to back the movement.

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Ms Moran said: “I was incredibly concerned by the statistics for my constituency.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable and action must be taken to stop perpetrators, hold people accountable and ensure girls and young women feel safe in our communities.

“I fully support the Crime Not Compliment Campaign.

“It is time society stopped turning a blind eye on so much of this behaviour, we need to be calling it what it is: harassment.

“And the law needs to reflect that and start protecting our young people.

“72% of those who have experienced public sexual harassment said knowing it’s a criminal offence would make them more likely to report. We need to listen to the victims.”

Rose Caldwell, CEO of Plan International UK, said: "Listening to the girls we work with, alongside the experiences of my two teenage daughters have made it all too clear to me, as the pandemic rages on, that public sexual harassment can no longer be ignored.

"This persistent and pervasive harassment of girls across the UK, including in Oxfordshire and the South East, is completely unacceptable, but sadly not surprising.

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"And this is something that affects not only girls, but their families, with parents worrying from a young age about the abuse their daughters face in public.

"What’s even more sobering is that many girls, and their parents, do not feel supported or able to report the harassment they are enduring due to a lack of information and clarity in the law.

"Today, we are proud to be standing with Our Streets Now and young people across the UK to demand a clear law that criminalises all forms of public sexual harassment and protects the rights of girls to a life lived without fear.

"Now more than ever, girls’ voices must be heard so we can meet their needs in this crisis and beyond."

Last month the Oxford Mail revealed that reports of sexual assault in Oxfordshire fell during lockdown.

The number of reports of domestic violence, however, increased by over 10 per cent.

You can read more about these stories here.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault you can call the Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Team on 0800 783 6294. You can also send them an email at

If you are in immediate danger, call 999.