A daily scourge that affects women and girls!

Street harassment, in all its forms, is an unacceptable reality that affects millions of women and girls around the world. Whether it’s unwanted stares, inappropriate comments, threats, whistling, obscene gestures or physical assaults, this sexist violence is a violation of women’s fundamental rights and hinders their freedom of movement in public spaces.

Serious consequences

Far from being trivial, these attacks have serious consequences for the victims. Fear, anger, humiliation, a permanent feeling of insecurity: street harassment alters women’s mental health and well-being, forcing them to change their behavior and limit their freedoms.

Let’s break the law of silence together!

It’s time to say STOP to street harassment! As women and girls, we have the power to denounce these acts and demand change.
In the face of this unacceptable phenomenon, it is imperative to break the silence and take action.

To women and girls:

Don’t be intimidated. You have the right to walk the streets safely and without being harassed.

Respond. Say no, leave me alone, or simply ignore if you wish. Don’t be afraid to answer back, to set clear limits, especially act for your mental health.

Gather evidence. If possible, note down the description of the attacker, the place and time of the assault, the verbal assaults against you. Take audio or video recordings of the situation, collect as much information as possible to help you expose the danger.

Talk about it. Tell your story on social networks, in the media, to your loved ones, to an association or to the authorities so that appropriate action can be taken. The more we talk, the more the impact spreads.

Take self-defense courses. Go out prepared because danger does not warn. Some of these situations can turn into physical violence and rape, so protecting yourself by knowing how to defend yourself becomes important.

Show solidarity. Support other women who are victims of harassment. It doesn’t just happen to others, so standing in solidarity with a victim is doing it for yourself too and it’s setting a good example for all those who still doubt.

To boys and men:

Girls and women are not things but humans with equal rights to men. Ask yourself, before engaging in a degrading situation for a girl or woman, what if it was your mother? Your sister? Your girlfriend, partner or wife? Would you like a “dominant male who thinks he can do anything” to treat her like that?

Mutual respect is the basis of any relationship: Treat women and girls with respect, in words and deeds.

Your gaze is not an invitation: Do not stare at women and girls in an insistent or inappropriate way.

Your comments are not welcome: Keep your sexist, inappropriate, humiliating or suggestive remarks to yourself. That would simply show that you are well-bred!

Public space belongs to everyone: Don’t make women and girls feel intimidated or unsafe on the streets.

Freedom also means respecting the freedom of others. Women and girls do not have to suffer any kind of dictatorship because they are supposedly the “weaker sex” or that they are created to be treated condescendingly or as slaves who do not have the right to defend themselves against their tormentors.

Be allies: Intervene if you witness an assault and support initiatives to combat street harassment. This will do your conscience and integrity good.

Empower men and boys. Education and awareness at the grassroots, from childhood, are essential keys to combating street harassment. It is crucial and even vital to instill in boys and men respect for women and their freedom to exist in the broadest sense of the word.

Harassing a girl or woman verbally or physically does not give you the title of a superior being or access to a circle of strong men.

If you need these dehumanizing behaviors to make a good impression on your friends, then break up with them because they are not a good influence on you.

Women’s rights are human rights. Respecting them is respecting humanity and honoring its dignity.

So what could be better?

Together, we can create a world where women and girls can feel free and safe in public spaces.

Please feel free to share this article, your experiences on the subject, and talk about it around you!

by Pelagie Blewussi

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