Philadelphia Tribune, Samaria Bailey Tribune Correspondent | posted 3 weeks
People share their stories at anti-street harassment rally
Christian Hayden, left, prepares to record a message to women about street harassment at an anti-street harassment rally on April 12. —Tribune Photo by Samaria Bailey
Social Action group Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now (FAAN) Mail hosted its 5th annual “Stand Up Speak Out” anti-street harassment rally on Sunday at Love Park.
The rally was a kick-off to the global campaign “Meet Us On The Street: International Anti-Street Harassment Week,” and gave men and women the chance to express themselves about street harassment — defined by those who have experienced it as catcalling, making degrading statements, and harassment of minorities by police.
“I hope people continue sharing their story, that more men join the conversation and think about their role, and I hope people speak up,” said Nuala Cabral, co-founder of FAAN Mail.
The rally included a set of platforms for people to dialogue on the issue and activities for youth and passersby to join in and reclaim a “safe space.”
Women and men were recorded on video as they spoke about their experiences with street harassment; some posed for photos with white boards, on which were written the statements people have said to them on the street, or inspirational messages; Chalk was provided for people to write their feelings on the grounds. And a “catwalk” was set up to let people show how they would walk, if street harassment did not exist.
“It gives people a chance to share their stories without having to speak, but to have a positive image that encapsulates how they feel,” said Niamba Baskerville, a program coordinator and “photo booth” volunteer.
The double Dutch facilitator and a partner in the event, Kerrin Simmons, of Tuff Girls, said the activity was their way of advocating for a safe space.
“It’s good females are taking action to make everyone realize what we deal with,” said Gabby P., 17. “We don’t deserve it.” Gabby participated in the “photo booth” and “chalking” parts of the rally.
She has constant issues with street harassment.
“I’ve been yelled at, called out of my name, instead of being approached like a gentleman. If I turn down the catcall, I become a name to [insult] my complexion. I walk away.”
Christian Hayden, 27, a youth worker from Southwest, said his perspective of street harassment changed after participating in the rally. He has been a victim and perpetrator.
“I’ve been a victim [because] of the ways I have been stopped by the police multiple times, and as a perpetrator, when I was younger there were things I would do,” he said. “I think women of color are beautiful, but it’s also my responsibility that I support them in being comfortable in public spaces and that may mean not saying something or turning around.”
Cabral said FAAN Mail will continue hosting community workshops on the issue, and working with other organizations to educate the public.