Female nudists are appealing for action to be taken to protect people on a naturist beach in Brighton from inappropriate behaviour by men.
Women who use Brighton nudist beach, in Kemp Town, say the area is male-dominated and should be a safe and inclusive space following reports of voyeurism and inappropriate behaviour.
They claim that a lack of safeguarding measures means some people are able to ‘get away with unwanted behaviours’ which puts others off from using the beach.
Bella Kirkus, 51, from East Brighton, said she has witnessed incidents of women being photographed without their consent and men ‘covertly pleasuring themselves’.
She said: ‘I would not actually call myself a naturist – I just don’t like wet swimming costumes and I’m lazy.
Women who use Brighton nudist beach, in Kemp Town, say the area is male-dominated and should be a safe and inclusive space following reports of voyeurism and inappropriate behaviour
‘It’s somewhere I like to go on my own but I’ve got more and more cross with some of the behaviour.
‘Sometimes you will get men coming to sit too near you. I become hyper-vigilant when I see groups of young women as they will usually get circled by men who will start acting up. It’s rife.
‘I used to just leave the beach, but that’s outrageous.
‘Women should not have to be vigilant in order to be in a public place.
‘You get people saying, what do you expect, it’s a nudist beach – yet in Europe you are expected to behave more respectfully on naturist beaches.’
Another woman who occasionally uses the nudist beach said she would consider going there more often if there were more women.
Bella Kirkus, 51, (left) and Eva Wilshere (right) are among the campaigners calling for greater security measures to be put in place on Brighton’s nudist beach
She said: ‘People say ‘well it’s the naturist beach, so what do you expect’ and so on but this enables people to get away with it and the authorities don’t take it seriously.’
Campaigners have suggested measures to improve the area and say the council has a duty to protect those using the naturist beach.
One of the key demands is for a lifeguard station to be set up on the nudist beach and for beach patrols to take place there, both as a deterrent against inappropriate behaviour and to protect swimmers.
Currently lifeguards are based about 200 metres west of the nudist beach.
Other proposals include installing welcoming signage at all access points, with rules about behaviour and contact information for how to attract help quickly.
Campaigners want improved access to the beach and for the council to consult disabled groups, as well as more toilets in the area and for the naturist beach itself to be expanded, to combat overcrowding in the summer.
Bella said she has been pushing for change for years but ‘the moment is now – especially with Reclaim the Streets’.
She was among campaigners who recently had a virtual meeting with councillors to discuss ways to improve the area.