When ITV contacted, asking me to participate in a documentary on a subject I felt passionate about I jumped at the chance. This episode subject was chosen when New York actress Shoshana Roberts held her own experiment (seen on YouTube) with hidden cameras to record her experience. The results were eye opening. #ITV wanted to do the same thing and I was proud to be part of the journey and go #undercover.
What was the subject? Sexual harassment on the streets. With a shocking 85% of women being sexually harassed whilst going for a jog outside, and a whopping 90% of women who have experienced being sexually harassed whilst walking to work or going out to meet a friend or a loved one is almost unbelievable. Unfortunately, is believable because this has been part of everyday life for years, with women just having to "live with it". But should women really have to put up with this?
Being kitted out in a leather jacket with hidden cameras and microphones sewn into the lining felt exciting. My job was simple - to walk around different locations of London and secretly film any harassment, abuse, and even positive reactions from men in the streets. I was also asked to approach any situations that may occur along the way.
Doing this job suddenly make me very aware of everything around me. From witnessing driving men hanging out of their car windows to gawp at the at the front of me rather than watching the road, to derogatory comments and leery looks as they walked past me.
The scariest moment was standing waiting to cross the road hearing clicks behind me. Turning around I spotted a man taking photos of my legs and bum. It felt natural to confront him as this wasn't the first time this had happened to me. When I approached this person, and asked him to delete the photos of me, his blasé response of "I can take photos of whoever I like" before walking away was baffling. I was left feeling violated and disgusted, wondering where those photos might end up.
Will this stop?
Unfortunately taking photos of people without permission isn't illegal. However, Nottingham Police are now recording incidents such as wolf whistling, street harassment, verbal abuse and taking photographs without consent within hate crime.
To some, it has become almost justifiable for women to live a daily life of misogyny, harassment and in some cases, physical abuse in the streets. It has had such an impact that women consciously avoid eye contact with large groups of men, cross the road when walking towards building sites and having to feel intimidated by men shouting comments from across the road or out of car windows.
Why should women have to be concerned to walk down the street and be beeped at, leered at, and even approached? And as I experienced on my day of filming, wearing jeans and a jacket on a cold rainy day proved that women don't have to be wearing a short skirt in the summer time to be harassed.
We can only hope that over time, women can step out in a public space and feel safe and comfortable wearing what they want to get to their destination without being harassed.
You can watch the program on TONIGHT, ITV, 23rd February 7.30pm #Sexual Harassment