I’ve had to face street harassment on a regular basis since the age of 11. The lewd stares, the whistling, a gang of whispering men turning around and smirking at me, a group of  boys coming up to my parked car to drop their number, the not-so-accidental graze a sweaty man would make against me in a crowded market…

I thought I’d seen it all. I thought that this was as bad as it would get for me. Begrudgingly, I had even come to accept it as a collateral damage to my outings. Every time it would annoy me, every time I would ignore it and carry on. So it struck me with surprise that I could come across something that I wasn’t able to brush off.

In a country where 2 in 3 women report having been the victim of a Street Harassment I want to develop the strength and fortitude to take a stand against Street Harassment.  My desires is to serve as an inspiration to the many women that suffer in silence with nowhere to turn and to shed light on this urgent issue.

“Being women does not mean we have to endure hardships and cruelty in silent remorse. I want to shout out loud to all women and men that it should not hurt to be a woman.”

I wish I could end this on a more optimistic note, but I cannot. I keep imagining scenarios where I face my harasser and heroically save myself and other women from his harassment. I wonder how that must feel, but I’m suppressed by my own fears. Nonetheless, I know what I must do.

I must not stay silent.

The rest I’ll figure out on the road.

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Comments

Dear Iram,

You have surely broken the silence by posting this story and you are indeed a hero. What i love about this story is that you have a plan and have taken the first step by coming out and letting the world know what the real issue. This is a very importanat step and i am sure you will be very many ideas from the sisters and friends on this great platform on how to handle this issue. 

Harrassment is surely a problem for women allover the world, and it doesnt have to be physical to be harrassment. Harrassments demeans women and girls and affects their confidence and self esteem. The women and girls end feeling like sex objects only and this can affect them tremendoulsy.

Therefore i suggest that you start by educating the women and girls that street harrassment is actually a violation of their human rights and that they should not condon such behaviour. I say this becasue if they have grown up in communities where this has been happeneing for decades then they might beleive that it is actually acceptable behaviour. Once the women and girls are empowered then you can embark on educating the community involving the men and informing them that this kind of behaviour is very demeaning towards to the person of woman.

You have done well and you are a heroine in my eyes. Continue with th egood work. 

Mrs. Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi Head of Legal and Advocacy Centre for Batwa Minorities a.kiddu@gmail.com cfmlegal@gmail.com Skype: mrs_muhanguzi

Dear Iram,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on such an eloquently written post! Truly a pleasure to read! This entry really resonated with me. I believe the street harassement of women is truly a global issue. I experience it on a daily basis, here in my home city of Toronto, Canada. Some people (especially the perpetrators), tend to dismiss it as a harmless behaviour, others go so far as to call it "flattery", or ever worse, there are those who blame women for 'bringing it upon themselves' through what they choose to wear, where they choose to walk, etc. But the reality is that street harassement is a terrible thing to experience. It can make a woman feel vulnerable, objectified, frustrated and furious all at once. And the sense of powerlessness has got to be the hardest to deal with.

I love that you have a clear vision of a future where women take a stand against this injustice and see to its end. I say "clear vision" and I mean it. Sometimes, we don't have to have everything sorted out. But you've taken the very important first step of sharing your experience. By breaking the silence, you have encouranged, and will keep encouraging, women everywhere to do the same. We will come together and take a stand against this issue, and before you know it, it will be a thing of the past. 

Thank you again for your bravery in writing this journal. Hope to hear more from you soon! 

Best of luck,

Pilar

Dear Iram,

 Women were beautifully and fearfully made by a great architect. We beautify the world, we are pearls for our families and the society, we help bring  the best out of people. There is no reason we should be poorly treated for that. It always aches my heart to see how people lack the wisdom  to protect the wonderful gifts we are to the world and unfortunately, it is everywhere. 

I appreciate your courage and wish you open doors and opportunities. What does the law in your country say about that? Is it a topic for media debates? Are there asssociations or civil society groups interested in that?

Please keep posting on your developments. And thanks again for writing, this is a great eye-opener.

Press on!

/Elvire

Dear Iram,

I applaud your intention, strength and bravery, being outspoken about this global issue, this common way of oppression, is not easy in many cultures. In fact in some is part of the norm.

I'm originally from Colombia, where street harassment is so commun that you cannot escape it even for a single day –maybe only if you stay at home– and no matter what age are you! In my culture this issue is so common that is part of the "folklore" and, sadly, a lot of woman base part of their self esteem on it and even "celebrate" when peers are being harassed.

We are not objects! this is not the way it should be.Thanks again for standing for you believes and having a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to do. I look forward reading more about what you are doing.

 

Sincerely,

JuliethM

Dear Iram,

oh goodness I am sad to say that I can relate and I have frequently had this type of experience in the United States. You have a right to take up space, to go about your business, and to feel safe while you do it! For me, every time it happens there is this shame and anger that bubbles up, of wanting to dissapear yet at the same time wanting to fight and yell until someone notices how wrong it is.

Equality improves the lives of ALL people, regardless of gender. 

You imagine a future that I want to be a part of. And I thank you deeply for it! -Mary