Obviously, there is nothing more flattering or thrilling than being sexually harassed. Most women like nothing more than to be wolf-whistled from a car, cat-called on the street, or followed home on a dark night.
At least, that is what some men think, a depressing new global survey has revealed.
A report by UN Women and gender equality group Promundo surveyed nearly 5,000 men aged 18 to 59 in four countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon and Palestine.
Between 31% (in Lebanon) and 64% (in Egypt) of men admitted to harassing women in public spaces. The majority said they did it for no reason other than for fun. The participants admitted to behaviour ranging from ogling and catcalling to groping and rape.
In each country, men were far more likely than women to agree that “women like the attention” when men harass them. In Morocco, some 71% of men said that women enjoyed sexual harassment, as did 43% of the men in Egypt.
More worryingly still, the majority of men across all countries surveyed believed women are partly to blame for the harassment they suffer. Nearly two thirds of men in Palestine and 74% of men in Egypt said women who dressed provocatively deserved to be heckled.
The researchers at Promundo believe that these attitudes and behaviour are not unique to the Middle East. “We know that street harassment is an issue around the world, and there are likely similar dynamics at play,” Brian Heilman, a research fellow who contributed the report, told NPR. “We just happen to have a rich glimpse of what it looks like in this region through this data set.”
The report is the first time that the group has studied street harassment from the male point of view in such detail.
“We know quite a lot about women and girls but relatively little about men and boys” when it comes to harassment, said co-author Shereen El Feki.