Catcalls, sexually explicit comments, sexist remarks, groping, leering, stalking, public masturbation, and assault. Have you encountered any of this? If you have, you are one of the many victims of “street harassment”. In countries like India and Bangladesh, it’s termed “eve teasing” and in countries like Egypt, it’s called “public sexual harassment.”
Street harassment has become such a concern that it has sparked a lot of campaign is various part of the world to put an end to it. 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 therefore it needs to stop.
Most women (more than 80% worldwide) will face gender-based street harassment at some point in their life. Public harassment motivated by racism, homophobia, transphobia, or classism—types of deplorable harassment which men can be the target of is recognized as socially unacceptable behavior. However men’s harassment of women motivated by gender and sexism is not. Instead it is portrayed as complimentary, a joke, or “only” a trivial annoyance. Plus people tend to blame women for its occurrence based on what they are wearing or what time of day they are in public.
How do you overcome this?
If you feel safe enough to do so, assertively respond to the harassers calmly, firmly, and without insults or personal attacks to let them know that their actions are unwelcome, unacceptable, and wrong. If you do not, WALK AWAY.
Intervene when someone else is being harassed to help them out of the situation and let the harasser know that their actions are not condoned by others. Men engaging in this tactic can be particularly powerful since men (majority of street harassers) look to other men for approval. Educate your boyfriend and brothers to be more attentive when a woman is being harassed in their presence. A great example is this video below and yes we need more men like them in Malaysia!
REPORT TO YOUR EMPLOYER
If the harassers work for an identifiable company, call or write the company to let them know that their employees are harassing people on the job and why that is unacceptable. If it is that delivery man catcalling you, that bus conductor leering at you, you know what to do.
It is sad, that we have to put up with such nonsense at this age this time. Even more shocking is how they blame us for their cavemen ways. There is no saying when will this come to an end, but while we are working towards it, stay safe and always always trust your instincts!