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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

As Kirklees prepares to crackdown on street harassment, women in Huddersfield share experiences on catcalling

Women in Huddersfield have shared differing views on catcalling, with harsher punishments on the way for those who commit the offence.

A crackdown is on the way for street harassment which includes catcalling, with a bill backed by the government that could see the offence punishable by a jail sentence of up to two years.

Closer to home, Yorkshire Live reported last year that undercover patrols were taking place in Bradford to catch men who were catcalling women. Officers were sent to problem streets, dressed in plain clothes to catch men in the act.

In Kirklees, measures to tackle street harassment include the safe place scheme which sees ‘safe zones’ set up in businesses, educational establishments and sports centres, for people, especially women and children, to go if they feel like they are being followed. The locations are identifiable by a sticker.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) headed to the centre of Huddersfield to find out how women felt about catcalling and whether it had happened to them.

Lilly, 20, described her experiences of being catcalled as “violating.” She said: “I’m not sure whether offensive is the right word but definitely uncomfortable.” She spoke of her experiences of being catcalled when walking to and from high school and told the LDRS that she had a more recent experience, just a few weeks ago, with men shouting from their truck.

She added: “There’s not much you can do. You might shout something back but it just eggs them on. I feel like they think they have some kind of power. ”

Another young woman said: “I think it’s weird. It’s embarrassing and it makes everyone around look at you. People mean it in a nice way I think but I think it’s weird that an older person would do that.”

However, Victoria Cole, 49, shared a different opinion and spoke of how she had previously been wolf-whistled at when walking past building sites. She said: “It doesn’t bother me. When they used to wolf whistle, I used to find it quite flattering. It’s a confidence boost. If they’re passing a compliment it gives you a boost for the day.”

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