My goals for this essay was to address the very important issue of street harassment. I hoped to make this essay a mix of creative and analytical content and I achieved that. I wanted to incorporate research and valid statistics to make everything stronger. I also added a personal story of mine to justify my argument. Overall, I think it was very successful and I acknowledged everything I wanted and explained my claim with good supporting evidence.
In some, way, shape or form, we have all experienced violence. It is because violence is a large aspect of our society. Violence is the government in war, the environment we grow in, the media and what we learn from our parents or our surroundings. At a young age, we learn these things and we pick it up tremendously fast and it tends to stick with us for the rest of our lives. But this can change if people are influenced positively. In today’s world, a certain form of violence affects our women, and some men, on a daily basis; street harassment.
Street harassment is when a woman, in most cases, are cat called, violated with obscene comments, requested for their number, or treated with disrespect based on their outward appearance. In a 2014 study, it was recorded that 65% of women have experienced street harassment; 23% were sexually touched, 20% were followed, and 9% were forced to do something sexual. In another study, out of 811 women, 99% stated they experienced street harassment. There are laws that protect us from being street harassed but it is not among the laws that are taken seriously and it is something that occurs all over this planet. It is something that has not been acknowledged to the extent it needs to be.
Regulations aren’t valued like they are in the workplace or in school, which gives people the purpose to continue with their violent ways on the streets. They do not have to endure consequences if they are on the streets and no one seems to care. Most of time there aren’t witnesses and they don’t seem to do anything if there is, which is why people do not follow the laws. It’s as if this form of violence is exceptional and brushed away like it is not even an issue worthwhile to acknowledge.
Although there are some forms of laws in every state in the United States, many women are not informed about this, which gives this kind of view that there isn’t anything to do about street harassment, so they let it go and continue to face it. In the First Amendment, speech that is intimidating is prohibited and that is what street harassment is. An organization that has been fighting for a vast majority of time, Stop Street Harassment, conducted a document listing what regulations there are under each state in the United States. In Pennsylvania, many forms of street harassment is illegal including, verbal harassment, upskirt photos, indecent exposure, following, and groping. The subject can be charged with a third degree misdemeanor, and up to 1-5 years jail time, depending on the severity of the situation. There may be laws but that does not mean street harassment is vigorously addressed.
According to Buzzfeed.com, this doesn’t just occur in the US. Majority of the world endures this, in countries such as, Australia, France, India, Japan, Mexico, U.K., etc. Often times in these areas, street harassment is perceived as the female's fault for dressing “provocatively,” and how they brought it upon themselves. In Kenya and other areas, people “think it’s up to women to protect themselves by covering up their bodies.” It’s not about their clothing. It is an excuse distracting from the truth. Women dress for themselves. To feel confident. To feel beautiful. It has nothing to do with attracting attention. Maybe we should start disciplining our boys to respect women and to keep their thoughts to themselves. The men looking should avert their gaze and let the women be. They didn’t dress the way they did for you. So men have no right to tell a women how they should dress. It also comes back to the fact on how society just lets men’s faults slide, and blame it on the woman and how they should cover themselves. Shouldn’t the men and boys keep their sexual feelings to themselves and let the girls be?
I am a modest Muslim woman, who keeps herself fully clothed and I am street harassed. I’ve been shouted at, stared at, and misinterpreted. One time, I was heading home one day with a friend, when a fifty year or so old man was leaving a store as we walked by it, and he commented, “How about I take you two ladies to my bed? I don’t cost much.” Again, this supports my argument when I state this has nothing to do about clothing.
Women have stood up to this issue and there is a form of resistance. Women have used their voices in the past by protesting, developing documentaries, interviews and creating organizations. “In 2012, Sofie Peeters, a student living in Brussels, Belgium filmed with a hidden camera catcalling by men on the streets.” This is a form of fighting back and it got a lot of attention in the media, which helped raise awareness. But they eventually died down because they never got the recognition it needed.
As women and men endure this revolting behavior on a daily basis, we can at least address that this is a serious issue that needs to be handled with better care. Street harassment needs to be made a priority and we need to come together to fight against it.
Rossalyn Warren, Marie Kirschen, Lane Sainty, Jina Moore, Rachel Wilkerson Miller, Hannah Giorgis, Nirali Shah, Bibiñe Barud. "Here's What Street Harassment Is Like In Eight Countries Around The World." BuzzFeed. n.p., 11 Apr. 2016. Web.
"Home." Stop Street Harassment. Stop Street Harassment, n.d. Web."Statistics." Stop Street Harassment. Stop Street Harassment, n.d. Web.