Travelling home from work on the London underground the last thing I expected to pop up on my phone screen was 120 unsolicited sexual images. The graphic pictures had been sent via AirDrop (a Bluetooth and Wifi-enabled feature on Apple devices, which only works within 30ft of the recipients phone) completely without my permission. 
I hadnt had to press any buttons or give any approval before the images appeared on my screen for me and the teenagers sitting either side of me to see hours before the watershed. Now I had to sit in silence hoping the sender didnt know who I was, that they wouldnt follow me off the train at my stop, and that they didnt have anything more sinister planned.
Since that incident three years ago I have now spoken to nearly 100 other women across the UK who have experienced the same cyber-flashing behaviour. The victims vary in age from teenagers to pensioners, were in different locations when they were targeted (public transport, restaurants, lecture theatres, the street), and their reactions ranged from laughing it off to being so scared they never took the same train again. 
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Download now
But one thing they almost all had in common: they didnt report it. New data released by the British Transport Police shows they are not alone. Although the number of official cyber-flashing reports has almost doubled from 34 in 2018 to 66 in 2019, all the evidence suggests this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The British Transport Police say they think women dont report because they are worried it wont be taken seriously enough or they dont know where to turn but this fails to take into consideration the daily conditioning women experience in a society that says this type of predatory sexual microaggression is to be expected. 
left
Created with Sketch.
right
Created with Sketch.
1/50 18 February 2020
Models on the catwalk during the Bobby Abley show at London Fashion Week
2/50 17 February 2020
Rachel Cox inspecting flood damage in her kitchen in Nantgarw, south Wales, where residents are returning to their homes to survey and repair the damage in the aftermath of Storm Dennis
3/50 16 February 2020
Teme Street in Tenbury Wells is seen under floodwater from the overflowing River Teme, after Storm Dennis caused flooding across large swathes of Britain
4/50 15 February 2020
Models present creations at the Richard Quinn catwalk show during London Fashion Week in London
5/50 14 February 2020
Climate change protesters march through Whitehall, London
6/50 13 February 2020
Resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Javids departure comes just one month before a crucial budget, intended to chart the course for the new government and makes him the shortest-serving chancellor for more than 50 years
7/50 12 February 2020
Hill farmer Tommy Aitchison from North Shortcleugh farm feeds his sheep in Elvanfoot, Scotland. A yellow warning for snow and ice remains in place across most of Scotland, police have reported a number of crashes across the region with many routes affected by snow and ice
8/50 11 February 2020
Robyn Peoples, left, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, at the Loughshore Hotel, in Carrickfergus, after they became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland
9/50 10 February 2020
Waves crash over a lorry on Blackpool waterfront as weather warnings for wind, snow and ice have been issued across large parts of the country. A day after the UK is trying to recover from the battering from Storm Ciara
10/50 9 February 2020
Residents attempt to remove water from their property as the streets flood in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, as Storm Ciara hits the UK
11/50 8 February 2020
England’s Ellis Genge celebrates scoring the first try of their Six Nations match against Scotland with teammates. The weather at Murrayfield Stadium hampered the playing conditions, with winds and rain from Storm Ciara approaching the UK. The away side won the match late on, with the scoreline ending 6-13
12/50 7 February 2020
Activists surround a wooden trojan horse in the courtyard of the British Museum in London. The horse, which is 4 metres tall and can seat 10 people inside, was pulled in by a group of supporters with flags reading “BP Must Fall”
13/50 6 February 2020
Members of the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme team examine a dead whale that died after becoming stranded in the Thames estuary at Medway over the weekend
14/50 5 February 2020
Children from Oaklands Secondary School in Bethnal Green and Families Belong Together campaigners in Westminster before handing a petition in to the Home Office, as they call on the government to amend the UK’s refugee family reunion laws
15/50 4 February 2020
Rasputin the polar bear, shakes off water as he is unveiled at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster
16/50 3 February 2020
Police activity inside a cordon where a man was shot by armed police in a terrorist-related incident in Streatham, London
17/50 2 February 2020
Micheal Ward with his Rising Star Award alongside Daniel Kaluuya Baftas
18/50 1 February 2020
Activists attend an anti-Conservative government, pro-Scottish independence, and anti-Brexit demonstration outside Holyrood, the seat of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
19/50 31 January 2020
Pro EU supporters display a banner ‘ Here to Stay, Here to Fight, Migrants In, Tories Out’ from Westminster bridge in front of the Houses of Parliament in London. Britain officially exits the EU on 31 January, beginning an eleven month transition period
20/50 30 January 2020
Kiko the 2-year-old British Bulldog skateboarding with his owner, Ebel Perez, from Shiremoor, North Tyneside
21/50 29 January 2020
British MEP’s and their assistants along with members of the political group Socialist and Democrats at a ceremony prior to the vote on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the European Parliament in Brussels
22/50 28 January 2020
Torches are lit using a flare ahead of the Up Helly Aa Viking festival. Originating in the 1880s, the festival celebrates Shetland’s Norse heritage
23/50 27 January 2020
England bowler Mark Wood is lifted aloft by Joe Root after taking the final wicket of South Africa to win the match and series during day four of the Fourth Test at Wanderers in Johannesburg
24/50 26 January 2020
Performers taking part in a parade involving costumes, lion dances and floats, during Chinese New Year celebrations in central London, which marks the Year of the Rat
25/50 25 January 2020
A couple walks along the Basingstoke canal near to Dogmersfield in Hampshire
26/50 24 January 2020
Boris Johnson gestures as he watches a performance during celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year at Downing Street in London
27/50 23 January 2020
Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe stands next to her father Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and his mother Barbara, as they address the media in Downing Street following a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson
28/50 22 January 2020
Rosa Connolly takes a close look during a preview of the Tyrannosaurs exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
29/50 21 January 2020
The sun sets behind tower cranes and the London skyline in the city financial district
30/50 20 January 2020
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, speaks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit at the Intercontinental Hotel in London. Johnson is hosting African leaders and senior government representatives along with British and African businesses during the UK-Africa Investment Summit, aimed at strengthening the UKs economic partnership with African nations
31/50 19 January 2020
Joe Root celebrates with his England team mates after taking the wicket of Rassie van der Dussen during day four of the third Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. He took a career-best four wickets during the day’s play, which saw the home side follow on in their second innings. They trail England by 188 runs going into day five
32/50 18 January 2020
Drag queens pose on the pink carpet as they participate in the “Queen’s Walk” during RuPaul’s DragCon UK at Kensington Olympia
33/50 17 January 2020
Kitty Ross, curator of social history, is pictured reflected in a display cabinet while holding a skeleton violin from the 1880s that forms part of the Sounds of our City exhibition at the Abbey House Museum in Leeds
34/50 16 January 2020
Britain’s Harry, Duke of Sussex (C), hosts the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, 16 Jaânuary 2020. The Duke, who is expected to step back from senior Royal duties, spoke with Ruby League ambassadors and children from St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary School in London
35/50 15 January 2020
Vehicles negotiate the flooded B4069 road at Christian Malford in Wiltshire after the river Avon burst its banks
36/50 14 January 2020
Huge waves hit the sea wall in Porthcawl, Wales, as gales of up to 80mph from Storm Brendan caused disruption around the UK
37/50 13 January 2020
Puppeteers from Vision Mechanic rehearsing with Scotland’s largest puppet, a ten-metre tall sea goddess called Storm, in the grounds of the Museum of Flight, East Lothian. Made entirely from recycled materials, it was unveiled ahead of its debut at the Celtic Connections Costal Day celebrations in Glasgow this weekend
38/50 12 January 2020
A windsurfer jumps in the air after hitting a wave in the sea off of West Wittering beach in West Sussex
39/50 11 January 2020
Mikuru Suzuki celebrates winning the women’s championship of the BDO World Professional Darts Championships 2020 in London
40/50 10 January 2020
One of seven new lion cubs at the West Midlands Safari Park in Kidderminster
41/50 9 January 2020
Rawson Robinson, from Nenthead, on the Cumbria and Northumberland border clears snow from the model village he has built in his garden
42/50 8 January 2020
People read messages written on the David Bowie mural in Brixton, south London, on what would have been the singer’s 73rd birthday
43/50 7 January 2020
England’s Stuart Broad celebrates with teammate Ben Stokes after the dismissal of South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen during the fifth day of the second Test cricket match in Cape Town. Stokes claimed the last three wickets in the space of 14 deliveries to wrap up a 189-run win
44/50 6 January 2020
Protesters in London take part in a demonstration in support of a British woman found guilty of lying about being gang raped in Cyprus
45/50 5 January 2020
Protesters demonstrate outside the US Embassy in London, after America killed Iran’s general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad’s international airport
46/50 4 January 2020
Metropolitan police cordon off Charteris Road close to the junction with Lennox Road in Finsbury Park in north London, after a man was stabbed to death on Friday evening, the first murder in London in 2020
47/50 3 January 2020
Protesters, holding a photograph of the leader of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran Massoud Rajavi, outside Downing Street in London after the US killed General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad’s international airport. Soleimani was head of Tehran’s elite Quds Force and Iran’s top general
48/50 2 January 2020
A keeper counts squirrel-monkeys at London Zoo during the annual stocktake. Caring for more than 500 different species, ZSL London Zoo’s keepers face the challenging task of tallying up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate at the Zoo
49/50 1 January 2020
Peter Wright celebrates winning with the Sid Waddell trophy at the Darts World Championships in London. He stunned Michael van Gerwen to clinch his first title 7-3
50/50 31 December 2019
Surfers at Tynemouth on the north east coast
1/50 18 February 2020
Models on the catwalk during the Bobby Abley show at London Fashion Week
2/50 17 February 2020
Rachel Cox inspecting flood damage in her kitchen in Nantgarw, south Wales, where residents are returning to their homes to survey and repair the damage in the aftermath of Storm Dennis
3/50 16 February 2020
Teme Street in Tenbury Wells is seen under floodwater from the overflowing River Teme, after Storm Dennis caused flooding across large swathes of Britain
4/50 15 February 2020
Models present creations at the Richard Quinn catwalk show during London Fashion Week in London
5/50 14 February 2020
Climate change protesters march through Whitehall, London
6/50 13 February 2020
Resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Javids departure comes just one month before a crucial budget, intended to chart the course for the new government and makes him the shortest-serving chancellor for more than 50 years
7/50 12 February 2020
Hill farmer Tommy Aitchison from North Shortcleugh farm feeds his sheep in Elvanfoot, Scotland. A yellow warning for snow and ice remains in place across most of Scotland, police have reported a number of crashes across the region with many routes affected by snow and ice
8/50 11 February 2020
Robyn Peoples, left, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, at the Loughshore Hotel, in Carrickfergus, after they became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland
9/50 10 February 2020
Waves crash over a lorry on Blackpool waterfront as weather warnings for wind, snow and ice have been issued across large parts of the country. A day after the UK is trying to recover from the battering from Storm Ciara
10/50 9 February 2020
Residents attempt to remove water from their property as the streets flood in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, as Storm Ciara hits the UK
11/50 8 February 2020
England’s Ellis Genge celebrates scoring the first try of their Six Nations match against Scotland with teammates. The weather at Murrayfield Stadium hampered the playing conditions, with winds and rain from Storm Ciara approaching the UK. The away side won the match late on, with the scoreline ending 6-13
12/50 7 February 2020
Activists surround a wooden trojan horse in the courtyard of the British Museum in London. The horse, which is 4 metres tall and can seat 10 people inside, was pulled in by a group of supporters with flags reading “BP Must Fall”
13/50 6 February 2020
Members of the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme team examine a dead whale that died after becoming stranded in the Thames estuary at Medway over the weekend
14/50 5 February 2020
Children from Oaklands Secondary School in Bethnal Green and Families Belong Together campaigners in Westminster before handing a petition in to the Home Office, as they call on the government to amend the UK’s refugee family reunion laws
15/50 4 February 2020
Rasputin the polar bear, shakes off water as he is unveiled at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster
16/50 3 February 2020
Police activity inside a cordon where a man was shot by armed police in a terrorist-related incident in Streatham, London
17/50 2 February 2020
Micheal Ward with his Rising Star Award alongside Daniel Kaluuya Baftas
18/50 1 February 2020
Activists attend an anti-Conservative government, pro-Scottish independence, and anti-Brexit demonstration outside Holyrood, the seat of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
19/50 31 January 2020
Pro EU supporters display a banner ‘ Here to Stay, Here to Fight, Migrants In, Tories Out’ from Westminster bridge in front of the Houses of Parliament in London. Britain officially exits the EU on 31 January, beginning an eleven month transition period
20/50 30 January 2020
Kiko the 2-year-old British Bulldog skateboarding with his owner, Ebel Perez, from Shiremoor, North Tyneside
21/50 29 January 2020
British MEP’s and their assistants along with members of the political group Socialist and Democrats at a ceremony prior to the vote on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the European Parliament in Brussels
22/50 28 January 2020
Torches are lit using a flare ahead of the Up Helly Aa Viking festival. Originating in the 1880s, the festival celebrates Shetland’s Norse heritage
23/50 27 January 2020
England bowler Mark Wood is lifted aloft by Joe Root after taking the final wicket of South Africa to win the match and series during day four of the Fourth Test at Wanderers in Johannesburg
24/50 26 January 2020
Performers taking part in a parade involving costumes, lion dances and floats, during Chinese New Year celebrations in central London, which marks the Year of the Rat
25/50 25 January 2020
A couple walks along the Basingstoke canal near to Dogmersfield in Hampshire
26/50 24 January 2020
Boris Johnson gestures as he watches a performance during celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year at Downing Street in London
27/50 23 January 2020
Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe stands next to her father Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and his mother Barbara, as they address the media in Downing Street following a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson
28/50 22 January 2020
Rosa Connolly takes a close look during a preview of the Tyrannosaurs exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
29/50 21 January 2020
The sun sets behind tower cranes and the London skyline in the city financial district
30/50 20 January 2020
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, speaks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit at the Intercontinental Hotel in London. Johnson is hosting African leaders and senior government representatives along with British and African businesses during the UK-Africa Investment Summit, aimed at strengthening the UKs economic partnership with African nations
31/50 19 January 2020
Joe Root celebrates with his England team mates after taking the wicket of Rassie van der Dussen during day four of the third Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. He took a career-best four wickets during the day’s play, which saw the home side follow on in their second innings. They trail England by 188 runs going into day five
32/50 18 January 2020
Drag queens pose on the pink carpet as they participate in the “Queen’s Walk” during RuPaul’s DragCon UK at Kensington Olympia
33/50 17 January 2020
Kitty Ross, curator of social history, is pictured reflected in a display cabinet while holding a skeleton violin from the 1880s that forms part of the Sounds of our City exhibition at the Abbey House Museum in Leeds
34/50 16 January 2020
Britain’s Harry, Duke of Sussex (C), hosts the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, 16 Jaânuary 2020. The Duke, who is expected to step back from senior Royal duties, spoke with Ruby League ambassadors and children from St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary School in London
35/50 15 January 2020
Vehicles negotiate the flooded B4069 road at Christian Malford in Wiltshire after the river Avon burst its banks
36/50 14 January 2020
Huge waves hit the sea wall in Porthcawl, Wales, as gales of up to 80mph from Storm Brendan caused disruption around the UK
37/50 13 January 2020
Puppeteers from Vision Mechanic rehearsing with Scotland’s largest puppet, a ten-metre tall sea goddess called Storm, in the grounds of the Museum of Flight, East Lothian. Made entirely from recycled materials, it was unveiled ahead of its debut at the Celtic Connections Costal Day celebrations in Glasgow this weekend
38/50 12 January 2020
A windsurfer jumps in the air after hitting a wave in the sea off of West Wittering beach in West Sussex
39/50 11 January 2020
Mikuru Suzuki celebrates winning the women’s championship of the BDO World Professional Darts Championships 2020 in London
40/50 10 January 2020
One of seven new lion cubs at the West Midlands Safari Park in Kidderminster
41/50 9 January 2020
Rawson Robinson, from Nenthead, on the Cumbria and Northumberland border clears snow from the model village he has built in his garden
42/50 8 January 2020
People read messages written on the David Bowie mural in Brixton, south London, on what would have been the singer’s 73rd birthday
43/50 7 January 2020
England’s Stuart Broad celebrates with teammate Ben Stokes after the dismissal of South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen during the fifth day of the second Test cricket match in Cape Town. Stokes claimed the last three wickets in the space of 14 deliveries to wrap up a 189-run win
44/50 6 January 2020
Protesters in London take part in a demonstration in support of a British woman found guilty of lying about being gang raped in Cyprus
45/50 5 January 2020
Protesters demonstrate outside the US Embassy in London, after America killed Iran’s general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad’s international airport
46/50 4 January 2020
Metropolitan police cordon off Charteris Road close to the junction with Lennox Road in Finsbury Park in north London, after a man was stabbed to death on Friday evening, the first murder in London in 2020
47/50 3 January 2020
Protesters, holding a photograph of the leader of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran Massoud Rajavi, outside Downing Street in London after the US killed General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad’s international airport. Soleimani was head of Tehran’s elite Quds Force and Iran’s top general
48/50 2 January 2020
A keeper counts squirrel-monkeys at London Zoo during the annual stocktake. Caring for more than 500 different species, ZSL London Zoo’s keepers face the challenging task of tallying up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate at the Zoo
49/50 1 January 2020
Peter Wright celebrates winning with the Sid Waddell trophy at the Darts World Championships in London. He stunned Michael van Gerwen to clinch his first title 7-3
50/50 31 December 2019
Surfers at Tynemouth on the north east coast
Cyber-flashing is the thin end of the wedge when it comes to sexual violence, but the reporting pattern is the same as all other crimes of this nature only a small percentage are likely to come forward. Rape Crisis estimates only 15 per cent of those who experience sexual violence of any kind in England and Wales actually go on to report this to the police. 
When faced with the fact only 1.7 per cent of reported rapes (one of the most serious forms of sexual violence) are actually prosecuted, who can blame them? It seems logical that women would presume lesser forms of sexual violence, such as cyber-flashing, are even less likely to be prosecuted or have any tangiable outcome. 
Beyond the unpromising statistics women in the UK are also conditioned from early childhood to tolerate this type of gendered behaviour and to dismiss it even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. 
Read more
The wolf whistles at the bus stop on the way to school more than one in three girls in the UK has been sexually harassed while wearing their school uniform  the smile it might never happen comments on a night out, the well-meaning parent telling you to wear a slightly longer skirt just to be safe, and the fear of walking home in the dark alone.
Women still do not have equality in public spaces. You only need to consider the victim-blaming that happens when women find themselves victims of sexual crimes asking the question, why did you not heed the advice you had been conditioned to do so? 
The lack of cyber-flashing reports is no surprise when you think about what women are told daily this is the price you have to pay to exist, and participate in, society alongside men. Until we can address this, crimes like cyber-flashing will remain undercover.