Our four Safe Public Spaces Mentees are half-way through their projects. This week we are featuring their blog posts about how the projects are going so far. This first post is from our team in Romania. Their projects are supported by SSH donors. If you would like to donate to support the 2016 mentees, we would greatly appreciate it!
Hy. My name is Aila and I am studying my BA in Political Science. Three years ago, I decided to come to the Romanian capital to study at one of the best universities in the field. I chose to stay at the university’s hostel because, as many students think nowadays, all the fun you can have during student years is in hostels.
Well, unfortunately for me and for many other girls, it wasn’t quite like that. I ended up being harassed almost daily by some boys and girls who were studying at the college located near the hostel. After one year I began scheduling my programme after the high school’s programme. In order to avoid the “unwanted attention,” I had to go out of the hostel at specific hours when they had classes, especially during winter when I risked a violent snowball/half-iced fight. Moreover, I always tried not to walk alone or to come home when it was dark outside.
At the beginning, I tried to ignore it sometimes when I heard, “Hey, kitty/gorgeous/baby” as well as the aggressive words connected to my Asian eyes. Then I began to feel so fed up that I started to respond. But it was worse. I was only one and they were always in groups. I had no chance and no help. Sometimes, there were guards but they enjoyed the situation or laughed or only said something mild just to make sure their job is safe.
Today, I can proudly say that I am in a NGO called FILIA that supports gender equality. Today I know that what I went through is called sexual harrasement and it’s a crime. Today I can make something about it.
Thanks to my colleagues from FILIA but also to the Stop Street Harassment team, we are currently developing a mentoring project in that same high school where students harassed me. We want to deliver workshops concerning the topic of street/sexual harassment. It is absolutely necessary for these kids to know about this phenomenon because we consider that they are young and can still change their behaviour.
My group has met a couple of times during the past weeks and we set the framework of the activities. Change can be done. I am not a victim anymore, I am a person who can bring change and can help the other girls who are still living in that hostel.
Aila is a member of the Romanian NGO FILIA.Share on Facebook