Where do we draw the line between utopia and reality?
This may seem like an odd statement, so let me put it into perspective…
I volunteer for an organisation called Safe & The City (SATC), their aim is to eliminate street harassment, create safer cities, currently focusing on London, and empower everyone to be able to walk free from harassment. We believe that street harassment is never the fault of the victim’s clothing options, lack of smiling or body type- street harassment is always the fault of the harasser.
SATC’s main work is through their app (which you can download from the apple store or google play). It takes you on a safer route to your intended destination rather than a faster one. Through mapping, other app users can pinpoint where they have been harassed and what type of harassment they’ve faced and write a comment and pin it on the map: ‘indecent exposure- oxford street’. This information is then sent to the MET police who can use it to amp up safety measures. However, the information is also present for other users to see where exactly they should avoid, as well as guiding them safely through London.
In relation to the initial question, my perspective is that since forever victims of harassment, assault and abuse have been persecuted in what we call ‘victim blaming’. Be it rape survivors being blamed for being raped due to their clothing choices, or even their level of alcohol assumption. The same is with women simply walking through the streets.
Although it would be great to live in a world where once we have raised our voices and said ‘NO- harassing people is wrong, their clothes aren’t the problem it is attitudes’, the reality is that we don’t. Harassment has still not been eradicated, particularly not on our streets.
Jill Kowalchuk, the founder of SATC, wrote a blog post about a recent incident whilst filming a video for our crowdfunder campaign against street harassment, in which she was approached by a man who physically harassed her on camera. Things like that you just cannot make up.
where non-femmes are facing violent harassment due to homophobia, transphobia and sexism
more must be done.
And SATC is doing just that. The reality is street harassment is mentally and emotionally draining, as well as physically damaging. No one should have to deal with it, so SATC’s app provides a way to avoid that. But also by circulating this information and campaigning against gender based violence, norms and toxic narratives of women, they aim to build safer communities in more ways than just stopping the behaviour physically but mentally too. Harassment doesn’t just jump out of someone, it is imbedded in their beliefs and power dynamics.
But this is why we need your support in the crowdfunder. Not only do we want to make streets safer but we want to open minds to think safely of others too. The law is improving, with initiatives like the upskirting bill being implemented into law. However, we know that the law can only criminalise actions — the mindset behind the behaviour still remains prevalent. We want to reach more people, open the table to honest conversations and amplify the voices of those walking who face harassment, by reaching more areas with the app. We want to show that harassment is not okay and that change is happening and happening now.
Will you pledge with us to create #SaferCities and make a change? Join us through our crowdfunder today and #WalkwithSatC! https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/safeandthecity