We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

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We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by HEPZIBAH » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:14 pm

This is an interesting article on Street Harassment (or sexual harassment against women) from an online Moroccan News site.

We Must Put an End to Street Harassment
Friday 13 June 2014 - 12:13
Saba Naseem is currently an editorial assistant at the Smithsonian Magazine.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Walking alone on a rather well-lit street in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in D.C., I make my way home at around 11 p.m. Headphones in my ears, I’m minding my own business when I pass a young man on a bike. As soon as I make eye contact, I regret it. Please don’t turn around, I will him in my head.

Too late. He turns around and starts following my footsteps. “Hey beautiful” I hear over my music. I’m annoyed, but also scared. Nobody is around. It’s late. My only defense is an almost-dead iPhone.

He eventually left and I got home safe, but I continued to constantly look behind me to see if he, or anyone else was following again. Just a couple of days before this incident, Elliot Rodger went on a killing rampage in California because he wanted retribution for all the girls who had refused him. In his final YouTube video online, he says, “You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.”

Yes, I know that every man who follows me or catcalls or asks for my number isn’t a misogynistic mass murderer or a rapist. But the paranoia is there. When statistics show that 1 in every 6 girls in the U.S. is a victim of rape or attempted rape, how can I walk comfortably alone anywhere without the fear of being assaulted?

And why should I or any other woman be walking with that fear?

Casey Alt, an American who has lived abroad shares an experience she encountered while living in Palestine: “My friend got her hair pulled for blowing a guy off, whom she then punched in the face. He retaliated by driving by later and throwing liquid on her.”

Alt also talked about the night she went to Tahrir Square in Cairo. “I was supposed to wait for my friends in the metro, but it was really crowded so I wanted to wait outside near a restaurant. The stairs out of the metro got bottlenecked and I ended up squished in the center of a throng of men. I started to feel hands all over my body. They were grabbing at my clothes, trying to pull off my shirt-dress, pulling my hijab off and putting hands down my pants. One of my best friends had it a lot worse months before. She was dragged around for hours naked.”

A recent study by Stop Street Harassment, a nonprofit working to end harassment in public spaces, finds that approximately 65 percent of women in the U.S. have been victims of street harassment. Two-thirds of those women said that they feared escalation in those situations. The numbers are even higher in Egypt where a 2013 United Nations report found that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. A study done in Pakistan showed 96 percent of girls experienced harassment, 99 percent in Croatia, 93 percent in Turkey, and 43 percent in London. In India, a survey found that 95 percent of women said their mobility was restricted due to the fear of male harassment. In Korea, Japan and China the figures ranged from 50 to 70 percent of harassments occurring on public transportation.

The SSH defines street harassment as “catcalls, sexually explicit comments, sexist remarks, homophobic slurs, groping, leering, stalking, flashing and assault.”

Three years ago, I went on my first study abroad trip to Morocco. I was absolutely shocked at the level of street harassment girls experienced there. We couldn’t walk anywhere without guys catcalling, following us, groping us, or practically– as we would call it– “eye raping us.”

I was told by other Moroccans, men and women alike, that this was just “part of the culture.” Many men I talked to didn’t even see this as harassment. In fact, I’ve been told that I should regard it as a compliment.

It is exactly this idea that makes societies and cultures see harassment as a norm. Young boys grow up learning that they are entitled to comment on a woman’s body as if she is a piece of meat.

“There are commercials, print ads, cartoons, TV shows and movies that make light of street harassment, often portraying a stereotypically beautiful woman being verbally harassed by a man. In many cultures, street harassment is not talked about, so these are the only messages kids are receiving about it. Often they internalize that it’s okay and a compliment,” says Holly Kearl, founder of SSH.

A male friend of mine who traveled to Morocco with me says that there needs to be a common understanding among all cultures about women’s rights. “In the East they think the billboards, the Playboy magazines, the way women dress are all violating women. Conversely in the West, many believe that hijabs and niqabs and other forms of covering are curbing women’s rights. Both need to understand that whatever the culture, the woman has the right to decide what she puts on her body and the right to walk out wearing whatever she wants without being subject to harassment.”

Kearl brings street harassment into the broader conversation of women’s equality in society and says that street harassment is simply “one more manifestation” of the inequality in modern society between men and women. We live in a culture where women have less power and respect than men.

It’s not just Morocco or Egypt, but all over the world. And I’ve found that I am always met with the same response by both genders—“Men will be men. Just ignore it.”

And for years that’s what I did — I ignored the men who followed me in broad daylight, making sexual comments while I pretended not to hear. I ignored the cars that would stop and ask “How much?” if my girl friends and I were standing at a corner alone. Later, in Jordan, I’d hold my head up high and look away from all the leering men, many who would stare and others who would follow and hiss. In India, even when wearing niqab for religious purposes, I’d walk away quickly when I sensed the devouring eyes of men staring as my sisters and I passed by. I didn’t chase the guy who walked up beside me, groped me and ran for it. I ignored it in France, England, Germany and the U.S.

I soon realized, however, that to eradicate street harassment, I couldn’t just pretend it wasn’t happening; I was only enforcing it by not saying anything.

“We will never end street harassment without first talking about it: what it is, how it impacts us and why we need to address it. And we need to end it because it is a human rights violation. It prevents people from having equal access to public spaces and the resources and opportunities there,” Kearl says.

So what can we do to help fight? Women, if you feel safe, assertively respond to harassers. Let them know their actions are unwelcome and wrong. If, however, you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, report the harassment to police or transit workers. To both men and women, if you see someone else being harassed, intervene. Don’t be an enabler.

On a larger scale, we need to bring awareness to our communities and countries. We need our governments to recognize this ongoing struggle women face everyday and help to fight harassment. We need to educate our youth for the future generations so that our daughters can walk on streets and ride on metros without the fear of being assaulted, and so that they can live in a world where men do not objectify them, but rather, see them as equals.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


For comments that follow the article see:

http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/06 ... arassment/


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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Bullet Magnet » Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:50 pm

Spot the Dichotomy..

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Dusak » Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:36 am

Sexual harassment against women is a world wide plague, and not a new one, finding its legs as man first found his. Many countries have spoken out, condemning these acts, but usually only when the world media hears about a new printable outrage, once again highlighting a recent attack that not necessarily is for the good of the victim, but good for circulation figures, becoming news worthy. Even if world wide the death penalty was given for these acts for the guilty parties I doubt very much that the figures would be noticeably reduced. The death penalty has been in place for decades, but more murders are committed today than then.

It is a sad thing to say, but the only real positive way to avoid these attacks, is to avoid frequenting the outside world during the dark hours. To walk the streets in groups during daylight. To take the decision to imprison themselves in safe havens to stay the predators interest in them. To avoid all forms of demonstrations, to ostracize themselves from society. And what sort of life would that be, back to the dark ages. Even practicing self care and awareness of the possible dangers that surround them, the fiends still strike, unpredictable spare of the moment random attacks. In some way, shape or form, women have had to suffer at the hands of man most of their lives, a problem that will continue to be self generating well into the future decades. So many diseases have been eradicated for good over this and the last century, but not this one, and sadly, I doubt it ever will.
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by HEPZIBAH » Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:43 am

Just after I posted the article I heard the UK news. A 90 year old women had been grabbed in her local street in daylight hours and raped. What is wrong with humans that they can become so depraved. :(

A 90-year-old woman is raped as she walks to local butchers

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... chers.html
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Bullet Magnet » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:46 am

Who goes to the butchers at 6:45 am ?
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Dusak » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:54 am

Bullet Magnet wrote:Who goes to the butchers at 6:45 am ?
She did.
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by HEPZIBAH » Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:08 am

Bullet Magnet wrote:Who goes to the butchers at 6:45 am ?
A little old lady with a walking stick in one hand and £1 in the other to pay for her breakfast treat - a bacon bap. (According to the report I heard on the radio news last night.)
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:30 pm

I'm not at all saying that harassment on the street is acceptable. Everybody should be able to walk freely whenever wherever but there is a big difference between a group of young men who might whistle at a passing attractive women or a group of construction workers whistling at women who pass verses a perverted individual who opts to rape. Somewhere in-between there is the group who have a need to grope and grab.

Not trying to discount the rape, which is abhorrent, the group I believe that would be most disconcerting are the gropers and grabbers. Those who do not have the normal restraints when it comes to touching another person. One has to consider why these individuals feel it is ok to reach out an touch someone. What are they lacking in their upbringing that allows them to lay hands on another? And what will stop this?

My feeling is that once the proverbial line has been crossed with no repercussions the "Toucher" will continue to touch. Whose responsibility it is to stop them? The woman? Other women nearby? Other men? The police? Not trying to be obtuse about this as it is a very serious issue but on thinking about it what would be a reasonable course of action (particularly in the Middle East) for a woman to take?

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by carrie » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:00 pm

Once in Cairo I was passing between two parked cars as was a man coming the other way wearing a galabeya, (unusual in Cairo,) as I passed him he felt my bottom, I spun round and if he hadn't been wearing the galabeya which flowed out behind him I wouldn't have been fast enough to grab him. Unforunately for him I did catch him and slapped him as hard as I could, some men near by asked what the problem was and I told them, they really laid into him.
If I hadn't caught him what could I have done, gone to the police, what would have been the point didn't know him wouldn't recognise him again.

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Brian Yare » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:42 pm

HEPZIBAH wrote:We Must Put an End to Street Harassment
What did the street do wrong? :urm: ;) :urm:

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Dusak » Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:19 pm

Brian Yare wrote:
HEPZIBAH wrote:We Must Put an End to Street Harassment
What did the street do wrong? :urm: ;) :urm:
What would we do without the good old blasé Mr. Yare? Answers on a postcard please.
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:36 pm

@Carrie - Sorry to know you had that unfortunate experience, good to know that you were able to actually grab the s.o.b. and give him a sample back of what he meted out BUT had you not been able to grab him, physically grab him nothing would have happened and there would have been no other recourse open to you. You were able to do that however I highly doubt an Egyptian woman would have the same option - to give the s.o.b. a really good smack. Am fairly certain if she even acknowledged she was touched it would bring a level of scorn upon her as somehow she must have invited the touch.

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by BENNU » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:30 am

LovelyLadyLux wrote:Am fairly certain if she even acknowledged she was touched it would bring a level of scorn upon her as somehow she must have invited the touch.
:o What makes you so certain of that?

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:36 am

:o What makes you doubt what I wrote?

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Dusak » Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:48 am

Its the mindset of a lot of Egyptian males, blameless for no matter what they do, especially towards women. If it had been an Egyptian woman and she had called attention to the assault he would have sworn black was white in his protestations of innocence, putting it down to an accidental brush of his hand in a tight squeeze of space. And he would of been believed. But a European with the same complaint? No contest, she is correct, so give him a good pounding. :up
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Brian Yare » Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:27 pm

Dusak wrote:
Brian Yare wrote:
HEPZIBAH wrote:We Must Put an End to Street Harassment
What did the street do wrong? :urm: ;) :urm:
What would we do without the good old blasé Mr. Yare? Answers on a postcard please.
Well I would hate to disappoint you, but I don't have a postcard (or your snail mail address). Full points for the acute accent, too, but two marks (the apostrophes in your signature) should be deducted. :-)!

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by Dusak » Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:18 pm

They are my apostrophes, so I'll' dam well put them where I choose'.' :nn
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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by carrie » Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:37 pm

LLL if the same thing happened to me in London, New York or any other Capital city I would have been too frightened to hit the man and I certainly wouldn't have received the support from the local population that I did in Cairo.

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:40 pm

@Carrie - actually true as you'd of then most likely been charged with assault.

How to raise the status of women in Egypt or any of the Middle Eastern countries is indeed a daunting task.

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Re: We Must Put an End to Street Harassment

Post by dsaxelby » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:42 pm

We have yet to truly overcome sexual harassment, unwanted advances by people in positions of power here in the UK, to expect the leap in Egypt is unrealistic.

How many women died to promote a woman's right not 100 hundred years ago, it will take generations and a lot of brave Egyptian women to change their circumstances and it has nothing to do with being Muslim.
It is what it is.

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