A GROUP of all-male naked ramblers spotted on a moor has sparked an online debate about whether it should be made illegal – and constitute sexual harassment.
Six undressed men wearing only socks, boots and rucksacks, have been seen walking on Dartmoor in Devon.
Following the sighting last month, one member of the public posted details prompting a discussion on whether naked rambling in popular public areas should be allowed.
The Dartmoor National Park Authority confirmed naturism was not covered by its byelaws and said police could get involved if people were offended.
Sparking the debate, the local resident said his father and nephew had witnessed the public nudity.
He wrote on Facebook: ‘Now I know probably not hurting anyone and each to their own but is this an ok activity on the moors?
‘Would it be considered indecent exposure especially seeing as a young child was present and has anyone else seen the same thing?”
After his post generated hundreds of comments, he added: ‘I am though surprised to find that it’s perfectly legal to be nude in public anywhere but that’s possibly down to my own naivety.
‘Reading the comments of the pro naked rambling out there I’m surprised there’s not more of you out there doing it.’
One woman said she would feel vulnerable if she had come across the group.
She wrote on Facebook: ‘Personally, I would feel really uncomfortable. While there’s a part of me who totally understands that nudity isn’t necessarily sexual, this is something that would upset me because of how vulnerable I feel as a woman.
‘I would not want to come across this while hiking on the moors on my own, however. And I’m sure there are plenty of women who do feel the same way, especially those who’ve been assaulted in the past.’
Another said: ‘It couldn’t have been a pretty sight. I would be very upset by this if I was alone with my children, however I think my level of alarm would be determined on how threatening I perceived them to be. If they were a bunch of smiling, laughing old men I think I might feel slightly better about it.’
Others said they saw nothing wrong with the groups activities.
One said: ‘I think to be honest a naked body is a natural thing. They weren’t purposely coming up to your dad and his nephew and waggling anything in their face maliciously as that wouldn’t be right.
‘They were just taking a hike naked. Kudos for them feeling comfortable walking naked.’
Another added: ‘They were likely just nature loving naturist ramblers minding their own business whilst enjoying a hike together with friends… and yes it is an ok activity on the moor... there is nothing indecent about the naked human body and no offence should be taken.’
The Crown Prosecution Service said police and prosecutors should strike a balance ‘between the naturist’s right to freedom of expression and the right of the wider public to be protected from harassment, alarm and distress.’
It says each case should be treated on its own merits, and added: ‘In the absence of any sexual context and in relation to nudity where the person has no intention to cause alarm or distress it will normally be appropriate to take no action unless members of the public were actually caused harassment, alarm or distress (as opposed to considering the likelihood of this).’