Men Underestimate Levels of Sexual Harassment: Study

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Women's March in Paris, March 2018. Photo by Jeanne Menjoulet via Flickr

Men don’t understand the extent to which women experience sexual harassment, according to a new study published by Ipsos, a global market research and a consulting firm.

In a study that surveyed citizens in the U.S. and 12 European countries, participants were asked to estimate the levels of sexual harassment experienced by women since the age of 15 in their country. In each country, men give a lower estimate of sexual harassment than women.

In the U.S. specifically, men believed that only 44 percent of women have been harassed, although the actual number is nearly double that—at 81 percent.

The study found that people in general underestimated levels of sexual assault, but men were more likely to underestimate, and by larger percentage points.

Furthermore, the study found that while verbal sexual harassment was the most common form of abuse against women, 51 percent of women said they were touched and groped in an unwelcome way, while 27 percent of women said they had survived sexual assault.

The research was part of a larger study called “Perils of Perception,” that shows which key facts citizens across 37 countries get right about their society – and which they get wrong.

In regard to crime and in criminal justice, people in several countries were wrong about the scale of knife and gun crime in their country.

For example, in the United Kingdom, 71 percent of those surveyed believed that knives cause the most deaths, when they actually account for just 25 percent of all deaths by interpersonal violence.

Even though firearms account for almost 70 percent of all deaths through interpersonal violence in the U.S., only about 59 percent correctly identify guns as the nation’s biggest killer.

Furthermore, people in most countries think prisons are even more crowded than they actually are. On average people think prisons are 30 percent over full capacity when they are 9 percent over capacity.  However, the countries with the highest levels of overcrowding do tend to be the countries with the highest guesses.

In addition to crime and criminal justice issues, the researchers examined participants perceptions regarding climate change, sexuality activity, vaccinations and the economy.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.

J. Gabriel Ware is a contributing writer to The Crime Report. Readers’ comments are welcome.

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