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One in ten British women is sexually harassed or assaulted while on holiday in the Mediterranean, research shows.
One in 15 men suffer sexual harassment on trips to popular resorts in the area, with the majority of attacks taking place in Mallorca and Crete, and one and a half per cent of both men and women said they had been raped on holiday, it was found.
Gay or bisexual men are almost as likely to fall victim to attacks as women.
The figures have led to concern that, despite the rise of drink and drug misuse and increased sexual activity amid young people in resorts that focus on nightlife, the issue of sexual attacks including rape still lacks proper recognition.
Dr Amador Calafat, from the European Institute of Studies on Prevention (Irefea), suggested that people leaving their inhibitions at home could be putting them at risk.
His team questioned 6,502 English and German tourists – the most frequent visitors to the area – aged between 16 and 35 as they returned home through airports in Crete, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain in 2009.
The research from Irefea, whose data is used to create European Standards for nightlife venues, found that 8.6 per cent fell victim to sexual harassment on their holiday, while 1.5 per cent were raped.
One in ten British and German women were harassed, with a similar number of gay and bisexual men falling victim to sexual attacks, according to the study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.
“With regard to sexual harassment, those who claimed to have suffered these practices the most were tourists who were visiting Mallorca and Crete, young, British, gay or bisexual, frequent drinkers or attracted to bars where people get drunk, or cocaine consumers,” Dr Calafat said.
The problem needs to be recognises to be combated, as people tend to think of about holidays in a positive light, he said.
Then the destinations “which are often promoted as places with a high level of sexual permissiveness and advertise cheap alcohol”, also need to act, Dr Calafat added.