Simona-Maria Chirciu, Bucharest, Romania, SSH Blog Correspondent
This year International Anti-Harassment Week in Bucharest was a full week! There were a couple of different activities which involved many people and targeted many different audiences.
First of all we had a meeting with a few young women who wanted to participate and we talked about street harassment that women bikers face on a daily basis in Bucharest. Maybe, in the summer time, we will do something about this, too.
Then Hollaback! Romania organized a flash-mob in the center of the city of Bucharest. It was an example of intersectionality because the participants have different identities and personal experiences: 13 persons of different genders, different ethnicities, different sexual orientations. It was a good opportunity to get in touch with people interested in taking action and change something when it comes to the street harassment nightmare in Romania. Moreover, people stopped and gave us a nice feedback – “Good job, folks!”, “Yes, you are right, street harassment is a problem”!, “Congrats!” – while others wanted to take a photo with our protest signs.
A nice moment was when we crossed a street and on our right side we saw a working site where were four workers, so we all laughed because this was a good encounter (everybody knows that many site workers harass women). We had a little chat with them about street harassment and they assured us they respect women and they never harass them.
Another action that we organized was a complex online campaign. Hollaback! Romania is just a baby now but I am pretty sure it will grow up and become a great activist movement. We gained 300 new likes in just one week (2-8 April) and impacted 16.000 people for some of the posts on the Facebook page. This numbers are a good outcome but not the only one!
ANAIS Association and I collaborate with a group of Informatics students to develop an online application to address street harassment in Bucharest. Even though things are moving slowly I see that there are more and more people interested and willing to get involved. I really hope that the app will be well received by the people and be a real tool against street harassment.
For 2-8 April we had a great time in Bucharest sharing ideas and hopes for the future regarding our fight against this type of violence. I was surprised to receive lots of support! We – the Hollaback! Romania team – are so grateful for it! For example, regarding the online campaign, National Agency for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men – ANES (subordinated to the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice) shared our campaign. It’s a rare thing to have authorities involved in feminist activism in Romania!
A really cool metal music band – Trooper – made a video where a member of it spoke to his fans about the harm that street harassment produces to society and to women.
Also, two martial arts schools from Bucharest shared Hollaback! Romania’s message announcing the International Anti Street Harassment Week and spread information about how important is to speak up and react to street harassment.
Finally, a member of the Ecologist Romanian Party conducted an interview with me about street harassment in Romania and their media press release had 8.000 people read it!
So yes, I am very glad that step by step (very little steps indeed) we starting to shake things up and grow the street harassment discussion in Bucharest. I try to convince people that we all have a role to play in preventing harassment in public spaces (in all its forms) and each stakeholder has a responsibility in defining and respecting his own role for creating safer and more welcoming public spaces. I am pleased to see that many of them get the message and step out of their comfort zone taking action.
We look forward for the International Anti Street Harassment Week in 2018 but we won’t wait that long to do other activities and campaigns against street harassment in Romania!
Simona-Marie is a Ph.D. Student in Political Sciences, working on a thesis on gender-based street harassment in Romania. She is an activist and organizes numerous public actions (marches, flash-mobs, protests) against sexual violence and street harassment against women. Now she is part of an working-group trying to improve by public policies the situation of young homeless people in Romania. You can find her on Facebook.Share on Facebook