Street harassment has become accepted as an everyday reality, it’s always there, in different forms and sometimes we only realise what is happening-in fact, when it turns into physical abuse. Getting catcalled on the street, workers shouting after you when you pass by, old men turning after you or offering you money for sexual services- these things happen to women-or even young girls- regularly.
Let’s say sexual harassment has different grades, it could be “just” a whistle, a “hi, baby” or a look or it can turn into degrading comments, disgusting gestures or even physical abuse. Usually I am very tolerant, if it comes to “strangers trying to get in contact” with me. Of course, I know what’s going on-it wasn’t always like that but I have gone through many experiences, that I will tell about later- and I try to reject their “offer” the nicest way possible or sometimes ignore them. After travelling to many countries, street harassment doesn’t surprise me any more, I could say it has become part of the everyday life-which is NOT normal! It still upsets me, makes me very angry or sometimes it’s just shocking.
I just had an argument with Greek men about harassment and my mind has been blown away by their reaction and their mentality. It seems, for them it’s totally normal and the women are responsible for what’s happening to them. So, here’s my story: we were hitch hiking with a friend (boy) and this man finally picked us up. ( Yes, I know, hitch hiking is almost like writing on your forehead that you’re a wh*re, don’t be surprised if they want to f**k you) He was nice and friendly, I sat in the back, I couldn’t really see his face, but I could tell he wasn’t 20 any more. My friend sat in the front, they had a chat, he ( driver) seemed to be a normal, kind man. We got to the beach, said goodbye to him and enjoyed the sun. Weeks later I got a message on Facebook, it was the driver. He was desperately trying to make me go to the beach with him. He assured me that “there’s nothing to be afraid of, just visiting nice places and having fun”. I tried to be nice and told him that I will let him know whenever I want to go to the beach with him. At that point, I couldn’t decide what are his intentions but the age difference bothered me, he’s way older than me and-to be honest- the whole thing stank, I just had this bad feeling, that I can’t explain. I never texted him again, but I met him one night. We were having a drink with some friends and he came to us. At first I didn’t recognise him but I was sure that I know this man. One guy (that I had the fight with later) is his “friend” and he came to us to say hi. He pet my back and said “Welcome back, nice to see you again.” Boom!-that was the moment when I realised it’s THAT man, the driver. He went to a table behind me, so I couldn’t see him but he could see me. After a few minutes he sent me a message: “Nice to see you again. I remembered why I liked you! Even now would be a good time for the beach! I hope you’ll be free soon.” I received the message at 1:30 am, just sayin’….
This happens to me often and I am not the only one. Here’s some more stories from my friends who had to go through all this torture:
“It has happened in the subway, I was 15 years old. I was with another friend who was the same age as me, shopping. Often, the subway was full at this time of the day. A guy came close to me and rubbed himself against me and I didn’t even know what was happening. Later when we got off the metro, my told me that he did the same thing to her.”
“While I was waiting for the bus in Preveza, I went to a tiny shop to buy something to eat. I was looking around when the shop assistant (60-70 years old man) started to speak to me in Greek. We had a small conversation in Greek, I was proud of myself that I could explain where I was from and that I was a volunteer in Greece. He came close to me and hugged me. It was strange but I thought ok, he is an old man, he is Mediterranean and kind… He continued speaking, he said he was alone and he started to come closer to me, he tried to hug me again. I started to back down but he grabbed my arms and pinched my face and my boobs. He looked up, and I thought maybe the shop had cameras… At that moment the only thing that I had in my mind was to escape. So finally I went out of the shop without buying anything and being harassed and totally shocked. How is it possible that I go to a shop and someone grabs my boobs?! I was terribly upset, my pulse was very high… I didn’t know what to do, where to go… “
“Having the best time of my life on amazing trip in Malaysia, at that time I’ve been working in a restaurant and an old man came to me one evening. He handed me some money and I was very surprised. Tried to refuse it, but he kept insisting to take it, so I took it. He went to a table and sat down, inviting me to join him. We started to talk and suddenly he changed the topic, telling me that he has a lot of girlfriends and asked me if am I alone in my room. I’m not sure what was my answer, I was totally shocked but I clearly remember his words: “just see, no f*ck”. I couldn’t decide to cry or laugh….”
“I was walking on a small street in Kuala Lumpur and an old man who’s been selling coconut grabbed my hand and started to talk to me. I had to sit down with him, he was telling me stories, asking me questions and suddenly he grabbed my hand again and placed it on his knee. In that moment I told him I need to go now, so he hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, then I left.”
These are just a few stories, we have much more and they all are getting worse and worse. Some people blame the victim, they all are sure that she was being a b*tch, she wanted it, she deserves it. We got to that point that most people have the freedom to wear whatever they want but id doesn’t mean that others can do whatever they want to them! So stop being idiots!