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SSH will not publish any comment that is offensive or hateful and does not add to a thoughtful discussion of street harassment. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, disabalism, classism, and sexism will not be tolerated. Disclaimer: SSH may use any stories submitted to the blog in future scholarly publications on street harassment.

“When will this end?”

In Stories, street harassment | on 10.16.12 | by | Comments ( 3 )

This goes beyond the usual shouting and name-calling I’ve experienced before, and I’m still in shock about what happened.

On 13 October, I was walking on a street in the city centre of Brussels, Belgium, on my way to catch the tram. It was about 18:00 so still bright outside. A young man walking alone in the opposite direction to me brushed against my shoulder as we crossed paths and spat in my face.

He just walked on! He didn’t say anything!

I was completely shocked. I didn’t see his face, I didn’t even look at him, and I wish I had been able to react! After he walked on I turned to shout after him, but he totally ignored me and kept going. I felt completely violated and aggressed.

There were other people on the street at that time. Nobody stopped to ask me if I was ok. Nobody tried to stop the young man.

I tried to clean my face with a tissue, but was still in shock. About ten minutes later I completely broke down and had to call my husband. He came and took me home and helped clean me up and made some sweet tea for me.

I have never felt so aggressed on the streets of the city centre of Brussels. I have, sadly, often experienced street harassment here before (and not only in Brussels, in most places I’ve been). Shouting, name-calling, propositions, cars slowing down and honking etc. This was the first time something so physical happened.

Later that evening I joined some friends for dinner. I took the long journey by metro and tram to meet them just to avoid walking on the streets as much as possible. My friends shared their experiences of street harassment with me, and I am now totally fed up. When will this end? Why are women so disrespected?

I am so angry that women and girls suffer this in their daily lives. My husband suggested I buy a pepper spray bomb. This is not the solution. The solution is that this stops happening and women are comfortable walking through the streets of their home!

– Claire

Location: De Brouckère, Brussels, Belgium

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