Katherine Ryan has reflected on a troubling series of incidents in which her 14-year-old daughter, Violet, was sexually harassed while on a day out in London.
The comedian, who created and starred in Netflix series The Duchess, said in the latest episode of her podcast, Telling Everybody Everything, that she was “p***ed off” because Violet and her cousin Lily had been sexually harassed “everywhere they went” in London.
“They’ve been out in the day; they’ve been out on the train just doing very wholesome activities. Shopping, going to a theme park, doing this and that. And everywhere they go, every day, they have been sexually harassed by grown men.”
She explained: “Violet is 14, her cousin is 16, but the 16-year-old doesn’t look 25. She looks 16, 17.”
“There’s no mistaking Violet’s age. She’s 14, she has braces on her teeth. Anyone looking at these girls, no one is mistaking them for being adult women.”
“Maybe someone might hope that Lily’s 18, nevertheless, you’re a sick freak and you shouldn’t be chatting to teenage girls the way you are.”
Ryan then told listeners: “I won’t go into all the incidents because I want to talk about Violet less and less publicly because I do think she’s entitled to privacy, but I’ll only tell you the bits she put on her own Snapchat because she’s posted that now, it’s for public consumption.”
Ryan recounted one incident where a man started filming Violet and Lily while they travelled on the London Underground.
“There was a man in the middle of the day filming them on the underground. Just a man on his own who got his phone out and started filming these girls sat opposite them,” said Ryan, who is also mother to children Fred, two, and Fenna, who was born in December last year.
Ryan explained that Violet and Lily went into a shop in Camden and one employee came out from behind the shop’s counter and put his arm around Lily and asked her age.
“She says, ‘I’m 16,’ and he asks how long she’s in town for and tries to put his number in her phone.”
“These men are trying to put me in jail because they better hope I won’t be around [next time]. I’ve been training for this my whole life,” said Ryan, sharing her outrage when Violet told her what happened.
Ryan said that Violet and Lily had been harassed “all week” as they spent time together in and around London.
“I’m seeing it now in real-time time with a teenager and I don’t know exactly how to handle it,” said Ryan, before adding that she found it “very, very scary” as she has to find ways to help Violet navigate such incidents.
The comedian explained that while she often publicly criticises older celebrities for dating younger women, she takes the issue of grown men harassing and trying to “chat up” underage girls very seriously.
“All my little playful jokes about Leonard DiCaprio – that’s for fun. That’s me taking down a very, very high status 50-year-old celebrity for dating models above the age of 18 but I still think it’s gross.”
Earlier this year, Ryan called out actor Leonard DiCaprio’s dating habits, which have seen him criticised for never publicly dating a woman over the age of 25, calling his dating history a “creepy pattern”.