It’s no secret, street harassment has been an ongoing issue for many women in Canada. The actions of catcalling, following and any unwanted physical behavior by strangers are serious forms of sexual harassment that everyone should be taking seriously. Some don’t take this issue seriously since it’s become culturally accepted, but I believe it’s crucial to speak up about it in order to end the harassment. Street Harassment, “can cause people to “choose” less convenient routes and alter their routines; give up hobbies and change habits; and even quit jobs or move neighborhoods or simply stay home because they can’t face the thought of one more day of harassment.” (kearl). Ultimately, it’s an issue that should require everyone to be greatly educated on.
According to research concerning Canadian women who were affected by street harassment, “…over 80 percent of the women surveyed had experienced male stranger harassment in public and that those experiences had a large and detrimental impact on their perceived safety in public.” (Kearl). Ask anyone, I can guarantee you that almost every woman has experienced some sort of harassment or has felt unsafe at one point or another while walking on the street. It is ridiculous that majority of society thinks that it is okay to be making people feel uncomfortable while they are on the street. Regardless if someone gets hit on or whistled at, they are still valid examples of harassment and shouldn’t be tolerated. Due to all the issues happening on the street, society has agreed on some sort of stereotype where women can’t or shouldn’t be allowed to walk alone without being harassed by strangers. All this is doing is creating a fear for those who are being victimized and empowering those who are causing the harassment. Sadly enough, “It doesn’t just happen to adults: 70% of Canadian women experience this before they are 15, for some it happens before they are 10 years old.” (Fox). “Street harassment can happen to anyone too, Members of the LGBT+ community experience extremely high rates of harassment.” (Fox). Evidentially, feeling unsafe while walking on the street is something that happens to almost everyone and it needs to end.
As a society it’s important to find ways to progress this issue, therefore, here are some ways of how society has helped progress and prevent this issue from recurring. Now available, “Anti-street harassment groups created by women who were fed up blossomed across the world”, “UN Women launched a Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces programme in 2010”, “Several governments passed national or city-level laws on street harassment”, and “Anti-harassment and anti-violence organizations.” (Kearl). Obviously, there is no right way to deal with these types of situations, but having people just take initiative to start movements for street safety helps bring awareness. As for those causing the harassment, I believe that they need to take a step back realize that what they’re doing isn’t okay and how would they feel if the same thing was being done to them. The reason that I believe that it happens more than it should is because of confusion. Take for example, a man sees a pretty woman and he’s genuine about wanted to catch her attention, but the problem is the matter of how he chooses to catch her attention. Many things can make people feel uncomfortable and it’s crucial that we all learn about boundaries at one point. In my opinion teaching boys and girls at a young age of how to approach people is lacking and that’s why as a society, we are facing many cases of street harassment till this day. It’s just wrong.
Fox, Naomi. “Street Harassment Isn’t a Compliment.” Canadian Women’s Foundation, 19 Dec. 2017, canadianwomen.org/blog/street-harassment-isn’t-a-compliment/.
Kearl, Holly. “Why Stopping Street Harassment Matters.” Stop Street Harassment, http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/about/what-is-street-harassment/why-stopping-street-harassment-matters/.
By: Julianna Noto