Most people don’t give a lot of thoughts to the different types of harassment taking place all around them. However, they are eventually forced to witness first-hand the extreme levels to which harassment can go. One of the most prevalent, though not commonly discussed, types of harassment is street harassment; that is, harassment that occurs in public, to strangers who just happen to be walking across the particular area of the harasser. Street harassment of women is often overlooked because it’s a critical issue and a matter of “honor” in conservative societies. Victims of street harassment are usually victimized again by their society and families.
How to Recognize Harassment
Unfortunately, more people than you’d expect are ignorant of what counts as harassment and what doesn’t. Most people perform under the assumption that verbally abusing others or vulgarly staring at them are not covered by the harassment umbrella. This is why it is vital to educate the public about the full meaning of harassment and its ugly impact on its victims’ lives. The main definition is to cause annoyance or discomfort. When people are annoying someone on a regular basis, this can be called harassment. However, this is something that happens all the time among people and this is something that people need to finally know they should stop.
Regular and repeated attacks on women are the most common form of street harassment. These attacks include whistling, catcalling, crude language, vulgar remarks on a woman’s body or clothes, and finally reluctantly touching her. So people need to be mindful of the little things that society chose to turn a blind eye to. If it annoys a woman or makes her feel uncomfortable walking the streets of her own hometown, then it should stop. People must make the street a safer place to enjoy a walk in.
What Is Street Harassment?
Proper understanding of street harassment and the similar phenomena will help put an end to them. Also, women need to keep their guard up and understand that no one has the right to violate them, not even by a crude stare. Perhaps if women are fully aware of their rights, reporting such cases would happen more frequently and legal measures will deter the violators.
Street harassment is usually committed by strangers. It is not personal and it doesn’t target a particular victim. Street harassers would approach their victim with caution like they regularly walk, and they mostly use the advantage of surprise to perplex the victim and harass them. It can be practically impossible to completely protect yourself from the malice of evil passers-by, but don’t allow strangers to come any way near you. Protect your personal space and keep on eye on potential predators.
Street harassment is typically directed at women, but it can also target people of minorities or people with disabilities or such. A pattern you can notice is that street harassers will exclusively target those they think can’t retaliate or fight back. That is why it is advisable to always carry some sort of protection around. Street harassers justify their attack of women with the infamous “she’s asking for it.” They either blame it on the way she dresses or the way she behaves in public. Of course, how a woman dresses or how she chooses to act are part of her personal freedom and are never a justification for abuse or sexual harassment.
Ways To Stop Street Harassment
People need to take a pause and look around and decide for themselves if their little communities are safe for their inhabitants or not. If the answer is not in the affirmative, they must find a solution. The solution is two-fold. Here are a few suggestions.
- Awareness is the keyword, whether for the predators or the victim. More often than not, the harassers are not fully aware of the impact of their wrongdoings on the victim’s life; they grew up bullying smaller children in school or disrespecting women, so it was only natural for them to carry on the assault as adults.
- Women should have more access to martial arts and self-defense equipment. If the harasser fears the woman’s reaction, he most probably will stay out of her way.
- A deterrent punishment should be in order. Arrested harassers should be severely punished. Governments must not take the issue lightly because it always escalates and can severely destroy a girl’s sense of security or self-worthiness.
- Society should stop blaming the victim! No one is asking for sexual abuse and no one is trying to provoke a complete stranger in the street into fondling them. Once everyone understands this, it will be easier for women to report and deal with their harassers.
Why Do We Need Laws against Harassment?
As previously mentioned, deterring laws can be the fastest solution for the issue. If you can’t change the harasser’s ideology, then use their fear against them. Harassers are not courageous people. They only do it because they think they’ll get away with it. If we manage to shake this firm belief, a person would hesitate a thousand times before he considers lying a hand on a woman without her consent. Laws will also help a great deal in changing the public opinion regarding shaming women. If the law can recognize that it’s not her fault, her family and community will gradually understand the error in their mentality.
Is A Sexual Harassment Video A Good Idea?
Explanatory videos of sexual harassment can be very beneficial since they simply inform the misinformed on what to look out for and how to properly protect yourself. They also show statistics that address the public opinion on the issue. These videos can raise awareness against sexual harassment and can also help young girls understand how to deal with such traumatic situations.
We can usually agree that any means with which we can bring such an issue to the light is a positive step towards a solution, because the reason this phenomenon has gone on for so long is the discretion and shaming with which families and conservative societies used to hand it. Well, not anymore. Women should speak out for their rights and show the whole world the ugly truth that it refuses to see. Only then may we all wake up to a safer and a happier community.
Watch a young girls’ rally against sexual harassment!
As you may know, harassment can come in a variety of forms from being stopped down the street to getting called out for something that you supposedly did. Whatever is its shape or form, we must speak against it, and speak loud enough for all to hear. It is vital to teach young girls that they are not anyone’s property. They are worthy and proud and there is no shame in their bodies or voices. If a girl grows up with this conviction, hopefully, no one will ever have the ability to break her, and those who will go as far as to attempt it, will get broken down themselves.