'Our Streets Now', safe women in public spaces

Comics shows the harsh reality of public sexual harassment of young women who have decided to tell their unknown stories for the "Our Streets Now" campaign.

Woman in a subway station

The strategy was born in England and seeks to guarantee safe public spaces for women. / Photo: Pexels

The Woman Post | María Lourdes Zimmermann

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Leer en español: "Our Streets Now", mujeres seguras en espacios públicos

The initiative that arose in England and that aims to assert the right of women to feel safe in public spaces, trying to generate changes from education and politics, is today recognized by UN Women and goes around the world.

The protagonist is Maya Tutton, a 21-year-old girl who co-founded the campaign with her 15-year-old sister Gemma. They both sat down one day to talk about their experience and their feelings, channeled their anger and proposed a change as they explain it themselves, to through a petition that has already been signed by more than 250,000 young people. The goal is to reach 300,000 thousand signatures to ensure that a law is established in the United Kingdom that criminalizes street abuse of women.

“Like 90% of women in the UK, we have both faced street harassment. And we are fed up with it ”, the young women explain in the petition.

“Women and girls must feel safe walking the streets, day and night, with the confidence that the law protects them. But in the UK, there is no specific law against street harassment ”they add.

Thanks so much to @cutecatcalls for letting us re-share some amazing work she did in May. “YOUARENOTDEFINEDBYOTHERS Whether that’s a catcall, an experience of harassment or anything and everything in between. • What people have called you or done to you, says EVERYTHING about THEM and NOTHING about YOU. • Equally if you are battling with a mental health issue right now due to your experience of harassment of any kind, you are not your mental illness either. You are much more than a diagnosis. • (Swipe right to see in detail how OVER IT this cutie is! I imagine they are rolling their eyes into the back of their head under those eyelashes) • Image description: A sassy siren with flowing red hair covered in freckles and flaunting their body hair is wearing a blue bra and knickers. They are lounged across and above blue clouds which have written in them “I’m not defined by your words” to represent how they are trying to rise above the comments of others.” Visit the website in our bio to learn more about the campaign. -⁠⠀⁠ -⁠⠀⁠ -⁠⠀⁠ -⁠ -⁠ -⁠ -⁠ #makestreetharassmentillegal #ourstreetsnow #metoo #violenceagainstwomen #feminist #feminism #equality #stopharcelement #streetharassment #catcalls #intersectionality #timesup #timesupnow⁠ #feminismisforeveryone #blackfeminism #feminismo #feminismrules #feminismoliberta #feminismquotes #féminisme #feminisme #intersectionalfeminism #feminismart #ecofeminism #feminismmemes #feminismisequality #feminismisforeverybody #radicalfeminism #feminismtag

Una publicación compartida por Our Streets Now (@ourstreetsnow) el

Also read: In Peru more than 2,400 women have disappeared in 2020

Gemma was harassed on the street at age 11, for Maya hearing her little sister's story was heartbreaking and annoying, but the worst thing was realizing that in her country there was nothing to do about it.

As young women, we have become so used to being constantly scared, powerless and hurt that the psychological effects are undoubtedly beginning to have long-term impacts, says Maya.

Being forced to adapt our routes and clothing, and restrict our behavior to feel safe is not okay. Studies show that public sexual harassment can cause long-term emotional and psychological damage, explain young women. Therefore, its strategy is focused on making the need, through the signing of 300,000 thousand young women, to open the way to facilitate a Law, which for them, would be a powerful step to face inequality and maintain the women safe.

Several countries such as France, Belgium and Portugal have already achieved this, but now the turn is for the United Kingdom.

Thanks so much to @cutecatcalls for letting us re-share some amazing work she did in May. • Social isolation can be a result of the symptoms of many mental health problems, from depression to social anxiety. • Isolation can interfere with a whole range of everyday functioning, such as sleep patterns, attention span, logical thought and strain on relationships with others. • The type of isolation that street harassment brings prevents us from doing the things we want to do. Catching a train to see a friend, walking in our favourite park or exercising outdoors. The things that are proven to help our mental health we are prevented doing by those who harass us in the street. • More than ever with coronavirus, the time we get outside (depending on your country’s rules) is precious. Yet even now, that brief time outside is violated by violent experiences, and we are forced inside for safety. (If this has happened to you check my #covidcatcalls series) • No one should have to decide between isolating from the world or harassment in the streets. • When you isolate from the things you love you can feel lonely. @childline_official deilevered 4,636 counselling sessions specifically about loneliness in 2017-2018, 80% of these sessions given to girls. • If you, or someone you know, is isolating themselves due to the fear of street harassment, offer to walk with them to places, to recreate their favourite bar at their place, or start a taxi/Uber/ fund for longer trips (obvs all of those depend on the Coronavirus rules of your country) • Ultimately I want to tell you to fuck those harassers and do what you want to do, but I know it’s not that easy. So if a particular experience has shaken you, or you are struggling with the idea of being alone in public, TAKE YOUR TIME. Most importantly reach out because you are not alone in these experiences and how they make you feel. . . . Image description: A girl is putting her hand up against a window, outside there are clouds. On the window it reads “I don’t leave the house because of street harassment”.” Visit the website in our bio to learn more about the campaign. -⁠⠀⁠

Una publicación compartida por Our Streets Now (@ourstreetsnow) el

Maya declares, to UN Women, who recognized her work within the framework of the 'I am the Generation of Equality' campaign, that “sexism and age discrimination combine in our society to devalue the importance of voices of young women ”.

“Our activism is crucial to building a more equal world. All forms of oppression are interrelated, so we use the mechanism of intersectionality to make it clear that in order to achieve gender equality, we must also combat racism, homophobia, discrimination against disabled people and other forms of discrimination ”explains Maya .

Our streets have now become a community determined to challenge the myths and taboos that prevent this topic from being discussed, and challenged, in the open.

Sexual harassment in public space during the global pandemic

According to Maya, in recent months they have received many disturbing stories from girls and women explaining how bullying has worsened under the COVID-19 emergency measures. The stories are told by their protagonists and in a didactic and striking way they are published as comics.

The deserted streets have allowed many young women to feel more vulnerable than before. As cases of domestic abuse and online harassment have increased, we have strengthened our campaign against all forms of violence against women and girls, explains Maya, who has established all the relevant information on her website so that young women feel more secure.

We, at 'Our Streets Now' , believe that "building better" is rebuilding a more just and equitable society, free from sexual harassment in public spaces. "Instead of getting back to normal, we have to drive change."

As bars and nightclubs reopen, young women must push for tougher measures against sexual harassment and assault. When they go back to school, campaigning to improve sex education and anti-racist teaching is essential. At universities, having consent workshops, administered online, that teach the entire student body about respect, sex, and violence against women and girls is another important step.

“It is crucial that we ensure that the pandemic does not turn back the clock on women's progress towards equality,” Maya explained to UN Women.

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