Casual sexual harassment leaves Laura Whitmore feeling scared outside her own home

Amy Johnson
·4-min read
Laura Whitmore at BBC Broadcast House on November 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)
Laura Whitmore at BBC Broadcast House on November 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

Speaking the day after International Women’s Day, Laura Whitmore has admitted she feels unsafe outside of her own home due to sexual harassment levels in London.

The Love Island presenter opened up on Yahoo’s White Wine Question Time podcast with Kate Thornton, detailing the discomfort she and others around the world experience when put into situations that feel unsafe.

“I feel that [fear] a few times a week. Especially in London… maybe everywhere,” she explained. “And I remember going out to Nepal after the earthquake and we were working in local schools and talking to young girls and we were there with Unicef because I'm an ambassador.

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“These are girls who don't have running water and were taken out of school because they had to help at home and I remember asking them what was the number one thing they were scared of [...] and they said ‘catcalling’.

“I thought that was astounding: with everything that is around them, it was the catcalling that was threatening them the most.”

Whitmore remarked that men sometimes “don’t realise” when they say something that could be construed as “threatening or scary”.

Laura Whitmore poses for photographers upon arrival at Brit Awards 2020 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.(Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Laura Whitmore poses for photographers upon arrival at Brit Awards 2020 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.(Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

The 34-year-old went on to add: “I think just the basics sometimes of living in that fear [...] I get that sometimes and I get scared when people say things, especially alone at night.

“I would love if I didn't feel scared outside my house. Because I think trying to do things on a wider scale is hard when you're so scared of doing things outside your own house.”

Whitmore also lauded the work of Gina Martin, the woman who successfully campaigned to make upskirting illegal in the UK in legislation which came into effect in 2019.

She spoke about her own experience of having exposing pictures of herself published after she was papped in a moment when her clothes had been caught.

Gina Martin successfully campaigned to implement the Voyeurism Bill, making upskirting illegal. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Gina Martin successfully campaigned to implement the Voyeurism Bill, making upskirting illegal. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Whitmore explained: “When I first started out in this industry, I stepped out of a car outside my house with shopping, carrying my dog, trying to get out of the car and my skirt got caught and there was a photographer and he took a picture and it ended up in a paper and I was like 'that just comes with the territory'.

“I didn't say anything about it because I thought if I said something about it [more] people would see the picture so [thought] 'just let it lie'.

“It was only through this incredible woman, Gina Martin, who wasn't in the public eye. She was just at a festival and a guy did something similar, passing this picture and laughing behind her back and sending it to all of his friends and she ended up working her a*** off.

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“It takes a big person to make a change like that. It might seem like a small change but now the positive repercussio that has... Small little things in your everyday life, if you can change it, can be huge,” she added.

The TV host also jokingly reflected on how there were men in her life who actively tried to make women around them feel safer, and had their attempts backfire.

Laura Whitmore and Iain Stirling attend the 20th anniversary celebration of tailor and fashion designer Gresham Blake at the Hard Rock Hotel London on November 28, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Hard Rock Hotel London)
Laura Whitmore and Iain Stirling attend the 20th anniversary celebration of tailor and fashion designer Gresham Blake at the Hard Rock Hotel London on November 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Hard Rock Hotel London)

“I was on Nihal [Arthanayake]’s show from BBC 5Live, who's an incredible man, and he was saying – and my boyfriend [Iain Stirling] does this too – he has was saying at nighttime when he’s walking behind a woman he changes sides so he doesn’t feel threatening to them.

“But then he crosses and there is a woman on that side as well – so then he has to cross over again," she laughed.

Whitmore continued: "There are some gorgeous men out there who are very sensitive to it."

Hear Laura Whitmore talk about her emotional tribute to Caroline, why she’s scared to go out in London and just what it’s like to work with her boyfriend. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.