A BBC survey proves that sexual assault and harassment is just as big an issue as the #MeToo movement suggests.

By Renee Cherry
October 25, 2017
Photo: Shutterstock

The dozens of celebrities who have recently come forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein have drawn attention to just how prevalent sexual harassment and assault truly are in Hollywood. But the results of a recent BBC survey confirm that these issues are just as widespread outside the entertainment industry. BBC polled 2,031 people, and more than half of women (53 percent) said they had been sexually harassed at work or school. Of the women who said they'd been sexually harassed, 10 percent said they'd been sexually assaulted.

While the survey may have been conducted in Britain, it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to assume there'd be similar findings if American women had been surveyed. After all, for anyone doubtful of the magnitude of the problem, a scroll through the seemingly neverending #MeToo posts quickly clears things up. Officially launched 10 years ago to provide "empowerment through empathy" to survivors of sexual abuse, assault, exploitation, and harassment, the Me Too movement has gained incredible momentum in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Just over a week ago, actress Alyssa Milano called for women to use the hashtag to share their own stories, and it recently topped 1.7 million tweets. Celebrities-including Lady Gaga, Gabrielle Union, and Debra Messing-and average women alike have blown up the hashtag sharing their own heartbreaking accounts, ranging from sexual harassment while simply walking down the street to full-blown sexual assault.

The BBC survey pointed out that many women keep these assaults to themselves; 63 percent of women who said they'd been sexually harassed said they chose not to report it to anyone. And, of course, women aren't the only victims. Twenty percent of men surveyed had experienced sexual harassment or acts of sexual assault at their place of work or study-and are even less likely to report it.

As the #MeToo movement continues to encourage men and women alike to share their stories, underscoring just how many people are affected by sexual assault and harassment, we can only hope real change is on the horizon. What we need now, more than ever, is for companies and schools to step up and put in place measures that can turn the stats around-instead of making them worse.