Pupils demand ‘school uniforms’ stop being sold in sex shops after wolf whistles

Teenage girls say they experience sexual harassment in school uniforms from men who are 60

<p>A study by Plan International UK, a leading charity, previously found one in three girls have been harassed in their school uniforms</p>

A study by Plan International UK, a leading charity, previously found one in three girls have been harassed in their school uniforms

A group of pupils have called for a ban on school uniforms being sold in sex shops and used in pornography.

Teenage girls studying at Sandbach High School and Sixth Form College in Cheshire told The Independent the prevalence of school uniforms in porn and sex shops promotes the sexualisation of children.

The girls, who have launched a petition calling for the government to ban school uniforms in both sex shops and porn, said they are subjected to sexual harassment in public spaces while they are wearing their school uniforms from men who are in their sixties.

Sarah Maile, who has been a teacher at the school for 13 years, lent her backing to pupils’ demands as she condemned the “hyper sexualisation of school uniform in sex shops, pornography and costumes”.

A study by Plan International UK, a leading charity, previously found one in three girls have been harassed in their school uniforms.

Hannah*, a student at the school who is behind the petition, told The Independent many of her walks home while wearing her school uniform have been “filled with catcalls, wolf whistles and honks of horns”.

I believe my uniform isn’t a costume and I should be treated like a human being full stop, whether that’s walking home, catching the bus, or just trying to access education.

Hannah

The 17-year-old added: “It has become a weekly experience for me and many girls, not just at our school.

“I even had a threat of rape when walking past men on my way home. Friends have had many comments by men on public transport telling them they liked their skirts shorter and that they should take their tights off for them also. These men could be young boys from 13 all the way to late 60s.”

Hannah explained she has become even more aware of the prevalence of this issue since the petition was launched - with many women coming forward to share stories of sexual harassment they have endured while in their school uniforms.

"It shows how much this issue hasn’t changed for years as these women are mothers now,” she added. “I believe my uniform isn’t a costume and I should be treated like a human being full stop, whether that’s walking home, catching the bus, or just trying to access education.”

Anna*, a 17-year-old pupil at the school who is also behind the petition, told The Independent: “Societally, there are drastic consequences to the active sexualisation of children.

“The fact that uniforms that children wear are so actively pushed in a sexual scenario means that men feel entitled to publicly sexually harass children wearing school uniforms as they are so openly sexualised.”

She argued it is massively “shocking” that school uniforms are “routinely viewed through a sexualised lens”.

“It’s alarming that they are viewed as sexy despite the fact that they are worn by children,” she added. “The aim of our petition is to combat society’s normalisation of the sexualisation of children, which hopefully means that if these uniforms are no longer actively sexualised, then perhaps we can feel safer when in our uniform outside of school.”

The petition notes most school students in the UK wear school uniforms until they are aged 16 - also arguing selling school uniforms in sex shops and using them as costumes in porn “is capitalising off the sexual exploitation of children and prioritising profit over the safety of millions of children.” The petition had gained almost 2,500 signatures at the time of writing.

Gemma*, a fellow pupil at the school, said: “The fact that school uniforms, clothes that children and minors wear to access education, which is a human right, are actively promoted by sex shops and pornographers as sexually appealing and desirable, perpetuates the association of sex with children.”

The 16-year-old said if pupil’s school uniforms are viewed as “sexual symbols or the sex industry is allowed to profit off the fetishisation of children”, society then “normalises” and legitimises seeing children as “attractive”.

She added: “School uniforms are not simply clothes but a representation of the children that wear them and by promoting them as costumes associated with sex we are actively advertising the sexualisation of children. This gives access to expression of paedophilic tendencies.”

Ms Maile, who teaches religious studies at the school, said she feels “heartbroken” when she hears about her students facing sexual harassment when they are not at school - adding: “Let alone in school uniform”.

She added: “They deserve to feel safe. They don't deserve to be treated this way. They express feelings of embarrassment, shame, and helplessness. Especially as no one challenges it.

“Many openly make these comments and do these things in front of others. The age of consent is 16, and most people in school uniform are this age or under, and yet there appears to be no moral or even legal ramifications for people doing this to them.

“The hyper sexualisation of school uniforms in sex shops, pornography and costumes perpetuates this and gives a feeling of entitlement and normalisation.”

*Names changed to protect their identity

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