I’ve just shared my story to all my friends and family on Facebook. It was daunting, but worth it. Please take a look.
Some background information: I am a 24-year-old woman who spent a year living in Madrid, Spain, which is where I experienced the worst street harassment in my life. (Not that it matters, but I dressed conservatively for work every day and I stood out as a foreigner where I lived.)
I previously lived in Thailand for two years and did not experience street harassment on such an extreme level. I grew up in South Africa, where sexual violence and rape are more common for girls than getting an education. But the times that I was publicly harassed, bullied or followed as a girl and then teenager, other people stood up for me. They sometimes even physically stepped in, which I am more grateful for now more than ever.
During my entire time in Spain, no one said a word, not once, not even when I was followed by two teenage males on my way to a lesson, or when a man sat making faces at me on the bus, or when someone purposefully blocked my path on a busy pavement. I find that shameful.
My biggest issue with street harassment is not that people do it, but that other people tolerate it and we as a society allow it. If the characters of these men who harass women are so weak, then the people who support it with their silence must be just as responsible.
Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?
-Individual activism like putting up notes, handing out flyers, etc.
-Joining and supporting communities like Stop Street Harassment or Stop Telling Women to Smile and telling others about movements like these, online or in person
-Spreading awareness and sharing stories with your family and friends in the hopes of changing people’s attitudes or comforting fellow victims
-Standing up for others and speaking out when you witness street harassment in any form
– Adrian Fleur
Location: Madrid, SpainShare on Facebook