Street harassment is one of the most normalized gender violence, it is even believed that it is one of the crimes that is least reported. Some figures from a study carried out by L’óreal and the NGO Right to be, taken from 15 countries around the world, indicate that after the pandemic, street harassment increased: 80% of women have suffered sexual harassment in a public space at least once in their lives.
In the specific case of Colombia, the figures show that in 2021 almost 2,000 cases of sexual harassment were reported throughout the country. In relation to street harassment, according to a survey carried out in Cali, 1 in 4 women said they had been groped and touched in the middle of the street; Of those, 63% said their harasser was a stranger. In addition, 8.4% of the women expressed having felt watched or followed when leaving their home. The study goes hand in hand with what was reported by the Ombudsman’s Office, which showed that confinement during the pandemic led to gender-based violence being exacerbated both inside their homes and abroad.
In accordance with Maria Isabel Cerondirector of the organization Aid in Action in Colombiain dialogue with Infobae, the collection of figures for this type of violence is difficult and inaccurate because it is normalized and it is more difficult to monitor it, so the best option to deal with this problem is prevention.
“From the educational institutions and the groups that we work with, we have tried to make everyone aware that this is not normal, for example, we have used technology to campaign and make the process more friendly.. In this issue of prevention against violence and intolerance, it is important to emphasize that gender-based violence violates human rights in a transversal way.”, noted the director of the NGO.
Along these lines, Cerón assured that street harassment is part of this violation of human rights, only that it has been normalized by the cultural context in which Colombians have grown up:
“We were raised in a macho culture where we got used to the fact that a compliment is nothing, but it turns out that there is a fine line between a compliment and a touch. The limit is impressive, but in addition, this brings very serious future consequences such as making the victim feel guilty, ashamed, creates insecurities, fear and other psychological affectations “
And I add: “Surprisingly, this type of violence, in contrast to others, is more common in urban areas, unfortunately in the pandemic that pressure cooker exploded, since it is a structural problem that goes back a long time.”
Due to the context of gender violence in the world, Fundación Ayuda en Acción and L’Oreal have joined forces to bring a prevention campaign to Colombia so that people who are victims of these episodes of violence in the streets and witnesses have tools to react to a situation like this. The proposal: Stand Up against Street Harassment, inspired by the 5 D’s methodology of the Right to Be organization and which has given results in more than 10 countries around the world.
“Stand Up is a key push to unite against street harassment, which has directly affected 1 in 3 women last year”noted Alberto Mario Rincón, general director of L’Oreal Central America and the Andean Region.
The prevention campaign that arrived in Colombia on April 27 proposes:
1. Address the harasser: Let the harasser know that you are feeling uncomfortable or uncomfortable and ask them to stop.
2. Distract: if there are other people around and you are being the victim of a stalker, talk to other people to create an environment that dissipates the fact.
3. Delegate: ask someone nearby or if there is an authority to ask the harasser to stop his violent comments or attitudes.
4. Document: if you are a victim or a spectator, record the situation and report it on social networks.
5: Vent: listen to the person who suffered the bullying episode and ask if they need help.
“Having a prevention campaign helps to know how to react in these uncomfortable situations, not only for the victim but also for the people who are there and do nothing out of fear or simply because we were never educated to react to these episodes. When you have tools, you can stop this chain of violation in different environments: at work, at home, on the street,” said Cerón.
And he concluded: “I ratify that we should not normalize this type of violence, let’s heal the spirit, the aggressor cannot imagine how a second can change someone’s life, we are all part of the solution.”
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They create a strategy to combat street harassment, one of the most common forms of violence against women in Colombia