Street harassment is unacceptable, but it is too a common experience for women. Unfortunately, whether as witnesses or victims, street harassment is something that we have all experienced, and it leaves me feeling frustrated and helpless, and I am sure it does the same for you too.
An international survey conducted by L’Oreal Paris with IPSOS, 2021 revealed a shocking fact that 1 in 3 women has experienced sexual harassment in public spaces since the pandemic began. According to a national survey conducted in 2014, 65 percent of all women had been sexually harassed on the street, with 23 percent having been sexually touched, 20 percent having been followed, and 9 percent having been asked to do something sexual.
Harassment on the street can take many forms, it can be in the form of unwelcome touching and hugging, pressing or rubbing against the person’s body, accidentally brushing, inappropriate comments about the body, demanding sexual services, indecent exposure, public humiliation, sexual innuendos, pressure for dates, graphical descriptions of pornography, uninvited tales of sexual exploits, animal noises, whistles, sexist and insulting graffiti, sexist jokes, hooting or simply being followed and it threatens our self-worth. We see it happen but stay cautiously silent uncomfortable look away maybe because we don’t know what to do, how to help, or how to combat the situation.
Every act of street harassment has a greater effect on us. It affects our behaviour, calls our confidence into question, and lowers our self-esteem. It causes us to avoid those locations, reconsider our appearance, and feel insecure going out alone. However, it has been shown that providing a reaction to it as it occurs, whether in the moment or later, reduces the trauma.”StandUp is a programme that is designed towards creating awareness and imparting training to combat street harassment. It is called the Stand-Up 5 Ds training created by L’Oreal Paris in partnership with an NGO Hollaback, internationally and Breakthrough in India.
Here is what 5Ds stand for:
- Distract the perpetrator
- Delegate by asking for some help
- Document the harassment
- Direct by speaking up
- Delay by comforting
Tell the person who is threatening you to quit what they’re doing, step away from you, or explain why they’re bothering you. If you’ve established boundaries, don’t engage in a back-and-forth conversation with the person; they won’t be willing to learn. Get to a safe place.
You should always seek assistance from those around you. If there are bystanders present but no one saw what happened, tell them precisely what the harasser said or did, as well as what the harasser is wearing, so the bystander can recognise the harasser. You may request that they remain with you for a moment or that they contact someone in a position of authority.
If you feel safe, take a photo or video of what’s going on, or ask a bystander to do it for you. Make a detailed note of the harasser’s position. You can decide whether to post your story on the internet or report it to the person’s employer or local authorities until you are safe.
According to me, these steps are simple and effective, and builds so much confidence. It gives us an amazing solution to help someone and help ourselves. It takes everyone standing up to harassers to help create a safer environment for all. We all deserve a safe street, and we must realise that harassment is not a compliment. Let us help combat street harassment effectively.