One story that really called out to me on Global Voices was the story titled “Its Not a Compliment” Campaign in Guyana Uses Personal Stories to Fight Street Harassment which I will link here. The story is about a campaign in Guyana to raise awareness of gender-based violence and cat-calling, the story really got my attention because of me, myself being a girl, and it scares me to think that girls and women around the world are still being sexually harassed. I cannot imagine the fear and discomfort they must feel when walking down the streets and having comments thrown at them about their appearances. It is extremely unsafe and disrespectful, which is why I personally think that this campaign is so very important.
Our bodies are not ‘things’ you look at and throw your comments at. Our bodies are not objects. Our bodies are not yours. And it really disgusts me to think that cat-callers think that the comments they make are compliments because if a girl feels threatened and unsafe, that is most definitely not a compliment.
One time I was on a train on the way to school, the train was pretty packed so I had to stand. There was this man in front of me, and he started staring at me with a very malicious gaze. I felt so uncomfortable. I was shaking inside, I felt terrified and I felt like I was in danger.I started to get away from him but the man start moving closer to me every time I took a step back. It was horrifying. Thankfully the train reached my stop and I managed to escape.
I will never forget the feeling of the lack of safety and how scared I was. And when I think about all the other girls who had to go through what I did, it just makes me feel furious and disgusted.
It also really annoys me when people say things like “its your fault if your harassed, its probably because you were wearing such a short skirt” to girls. Because it just further proves that the hyper sexualisation of female bodies today is real and it pushes girls into thinking that it was what they deserved because of what they were wearing. Girls are pushed into thinking that their bodies are things of shame that needs to be hidden to prevent themselves from danger and that makes me extremely upset because it allows street harassment to continue to happen, because it’s “normal” and “the girls’ fault”.
This is why this campaign is so important, because street harassment is real, it is happening and it needs to stop. Because harassers need to learn to respect female bodies and stop sexualising it. Because people need to realise that what needs to change is not what girls are wearing but the system that continues to normalise street harassment. All in all, I hope campaigns like this will change the system, to ensure the safety of girls all around the world, to stop normalising street harassment. It is not something that “just happens”, it is not a compliment, and never will be.
Here are some links of stories/ websites related to street harassment: