What's happening in our streets?
Tina was a journalist in her late 20s. She worked for the local newspaper. Every day she would be up at 6 to get ready for work. But Tina did have unpredictable work hours if she had a hot story to chase. At such moments she would wish she was a man, you'll know why if you read on.
After work, Tina would leave to catch the metro. The sky's growing darker and the streets were packed with people trying to get home. The local group of guys near the station hoot as she passes by. She thinks to herself "ignore them". By now she was used to their whistling ,name-calling, and leering. As Tina is waiting for the metro she looks around and a girl catches her eye. This girl is in her early 20s, clutching a handbag and looking around nervously. Tina saw that a weird uncle was staring at her and this was making her uncomfortable. She walked up to the girl, put a hand on her arm and led her away. The girl smiled at Tina and muttered thanks. Tina said, " hey no worries, we gotta help each other out". The girl said it was her first time taking the metro. Tina congratulated her and said " well, you gotta keep an eye out, but you'll get used to it" The girl was taken aback but didn't say anything. The metro arrived just then and both of them went aboard.
Now we can guess what the young girl was thinking. She found it unbelievable that tina thought all this was normal. The staring, the leering, the catcalling, and all that. But Tina was just saying what millions of us are used to by now. Someone touched you in a packed bus? Maybe it was an accident. Did they whistle as you passed? Maybe they thought you were pretty. Did they stare at you? what were you wearing.
As a society, it is considered normal to have a pair of drunkards screaming on the streets or weird uncles that invade your space. But it sure isn't.
All this constitutes what is known as STREET HARASSMENT. Street harassment is a form of harassment, primarily sexual harassment that consists of unwanted comments, gestures, honking, wolf-whistlings, catcalling, exposure, following, persistent sexual advances, and touching by strangers in public areas such as streets, shopping malls, and public transportation
It may also include instances like Continuing to talk to someone after they have asked to be left alone, Taking a photo of someone without their consent, etc
The major problem is that this is not considered a problem at all. It's seen as a joke or an inconvenience.
No form of harassment is OK; and it is never a compliment. Although street harassment can happen to anyone regardless of gender or age—it is often directed at individuals because of their actual or perceived gender expression, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and to feel safe in public spaces.
But street harassment is a type of boundary violation. We all like, nay love our personal spaces, don't we? Imagine a whole lot of trash in it.
Let me present some statistics.
Among the women, here's some info I got by research
You can guess the type of effect this would have on the targeted person. Emotionally it would be a lot to handle. Maybe you will think this your fault. That would lead to you overeating or not eating at all. It would make you self conscious, doubtful. You would stop going to that area. Basically it hinders the quality of life.
in the research I did, I came across this wonderful site called stop street harassment.
The Stop Street Harassment (SSH) a nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide.
I read this one their site
Catcalls, sexually explicit comments, sexist remarks, homophobic slurs, groping, leering, stalking, flashing, and assault. Most women and some men will face gender-based street harassment by strangers in their life. Street harassment limits people's mobility and access to public spaces. It is a form of gender violence and it's a human rights violation. IT NEEDS TO STOP
For those interested, check them out http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/about/
What can you do about it ?
- Look out for each other. If you see a woman or in fact anyone being harassed on the streets, try to help them out. Call out the public for help, intervene, or stand up for them
- Spread awareness. Let people know this not normal, that they don't have to put up with it or suffer in silence
- Report. To a local police station, the concerned authorities, community center, an NGO , or any other facility that's willing to help.
- Don't normalize. Don't make the victim feel it's their fault.
And here's the link to an article with some more suggestions of what we can do.
Overall, it is a prevalent problem that is slowly being recognized and discussed. And maybe one day we can walk the streets with no worry in our mind.