Simona-Maria Chirciu, Bucharest, Romania, SSH Blog Correspondent
We had a week full of events for International Anti-Street Harassment Week in Romania. Activists and feminists were very active in raising awareness about this problem by posting online testimonials about street harassment experiences, sharing international events, participating in flashmobs and distributing fliers.
FILIA NGO and volunteers posted testimonials all week on Facebook and other activists Tweeted about street harassment. These kinds of online posting and discussions with people about street harassment is important. For example, some young women commented on our testimonials, opening up about their own experiences. Is vital for us to start talking more and more about this problem, in online but also in public spaces.
When it comes to street harassment in Romania, people tend to ignore it, to minimize the gravity of it. They excuse the harassers and blame the victims, so for this year’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week, three feminist NGOs from Bucharest — FILIA, FRONT and AnA: Society for Feminist Analyses — organized a public action in a park in Bucharest.
We gathered in a large park on Saturday, 18 April, to raise awareness about victim-blaming and the importance of bystanders intervention. How did we do that? We begun with writing chalk messages against street harassment like: “My skirt doesn’t concerns you!”, “I was harassed HERE”, “I don’t harass women”, “The public space must be safe for all of us”, “Take action against street harassment”, “Brave against street harassment”, “STOP street harassment”, “Harassment is violence”, “Respect women”.
Many people in the park took a moment to stop and read or asked us what are we doing, what is street harassment or just stopped to congratulate us on our work. After the chalking, we made a flashmob – an artistic dance to symbolize the “relation” between the aggressor and the harassed woman, a relation of dominance and submission, a power relation. A powerful woman, an actress and activist on Roma rights – Mihaela Dragan – recited testimonials about street harassment to go with the dance. It was great! Then, the other participants made a circle, surrounding the dancers with banners and placards with messages against street harassment, for the people to see them.
“When was it the last time you saw a girl or a woman catcalled, whistled, groped on the street, bus or park? What was your reaction? Street harassment is a daily problem for girls and women worldwide. Whistles, honking, leers, groping, sexual commentaries about women’s body, stalking, flashing, masturbation in public, threats with rape or physical aggression and other behaviours of street harassment in public space are making girls and women to feel unsafe. Street harassment has nothing to do with sexual attraction or what a woman is wearing. Is about the need of the harassers to demonstrate their power on their targets, the women who are seen just like sexual objects, walking down the street to please the men. Is time to get over stereotypes and stop blaming the women, but their aggressors. Say STOP to street harassment! Women have the right to a safe space too! Take attitude if you see a harassed women on the street!”
I was very glad that so many women and men in Bucharest got involved in this amazing week and I hope will be that way and something more in 2016 too!
Photos by Ana-Maria Popa.Share on Facebook