Friday, January 27

“Give me a touch when you arrive”; This is how street harassment discriminates

Lonely teenager coming home at night. / Oscar Chamorro

Girls find barriers to living in freedom as they feel insecure in “cities designed by and for men”

Jose A. Gonzalez

In the distance you can hear the Puerta del Sol clock strike one in the morning. In theorchards street In the heart of the capital and one of the busiest nights in Madrid, young and not so young people cross paths. Some go in search of the usual joints to enjoy the party and others head down the street towards the metro to try to catch the last train before the Madrid underground closes.

It is 01:12 in the morning and there are hardly any people at the station. «Last weekend, when I got off the Metro, an older man approached me andtouched my asswith his hand”, recalls L., a 35-year-old from Madrid. Like her, “girls, adolescents and young women from all over the world live experiences of insecurity in cities every day”, Plan International points out in its report “Safer cities for girls”.

Among the forms of violence that girls, adolescents and women suffer the most is harassment in public spaces. However, their perception of fear, of the city and urban space may vary due to the subjective perception of each one. This is the case of Bea, a young woman from Malaga: «Since I was 15 when I started going out to party, I’ve come home alone and I haven’t feltafraidIn Malaga”.

This lack of urban security is a global phenomenon that has its impact on Spanish streets and cities. According to official data from the Macro-survey on Violence against Women from last year, in Spain one in four women between the ages of 16 and 24 have suffered repeated harassment and 13%, before reaching 15 years of age. “Our project ranges from 15 to 24 years old,” says Begoña Solórzano, director of local programs at Plan International Spain, “although before reaching that age they have already suffered these episodes,” she adds.

One in four women between the ages of 16 and 24 has suffered repeated harassment and 13%, before turning 15 years of age

An insecurity reflected from an insinuation to the sexual crime punished by Spanish law. However, the most common is harassment without physical contact. Three out of four Spanish women have experienced persecution, comments of a sexual nature or even threats, according to data from Plan International. “Unfortunately, it is something that we are all used to and we know how to get around it,” adds the young woman from Malaga.

Precisely, the night is the right time for this type of situation. “We continue to be educated from a young age to be afraid at night and in the street,” explains Sara Ortiz, a member of Col.lectiu Punt 6. When saying goodbye to a group of friends, it is common to hear “Shall I accompany you?” touch when you arrive” or “don’t come back alone,” adds Ortiz.

54% of street harassment cases occurat nightor early in the morning However, the feeling of insecurity is widespread among many young women and many of them have developed their own strategies to avoid these situations: «I havethe keysin my hands, a number dialed in case something happens to you or, even, I have even faked a phone call”, says L. “What surprises me the most is that women have to modify our actions or attitudes to avoid these situations », denounces M., a 36-year-old girl living in Alcorcón (Madrid). “I am aware that I keep looking back before entering the portal or I walk faster if I feel watched,” she adds.

More than half of the cases of street harassment occur at night or early in the morning, but it is also common for them to happen in broad daylight

But “not everything happens at night,” says a 35-year-old woman. “In April, around 6:00 p.m. I was walking down an avenue and the boy asked me about a shopping center,” she says. “I started giving him directions facing the road and when I turned around I see him masturbating while he was looking at me,” she adds. According to data from the NGO Plan International, 20% of harassment situations occur like this, “at any time”. Leire, a 34-year-old woman from Bilbao, testifies to this: «I was in Bilbao’s Plaza Nueva in a second-hand market and, suddenly, I saw an older man take out his penis and look at me».

the insecurity of the street

The private sphere is the most common ecosystem of violence against women or any type of harassment. “Sexist violence continues to affect women both in public and private spaces,” says Ortiz.

Loneliness at night increases the feeling of insecurity. “Obviously you are more vulnerable,” explains L. Mobility is more limited and they even prefer some means of transport to others to get around. “My father has come to look for me at the doors of the disco, when he was going out partying”, narrates Irene, 25 years old.

In a majority of situations, young women are intimidated by a single man (59%), although the percentage of experiences in which the bullies are a group of men is also notable (on average, in 34% of cases) . The vast majority of these cases occur on the streets of cities, almost half according to data from ‘Safer cities for girls’, although there are also others as common as public transport or the center of studies or work.

“I was on the train to the Autonomous University of Madrid from Atocha”, relates María, 32 years old. “A boy sat in front of me and suddenly started taking pictures of me with his cell phone, I was petrified,” she adds.

The feeling of insecurity, highlights the Plan International study, “has to do with the fact that places with little traffic.” What makes a place safer is the presence of people, but this is not always the case. 88% of the experiences of harassment in Barcelona do not receive help from witnesses, in Madrid 90% and 92% in Seville.“I will never forget it, a group of boys began to touch us and it shocked me because you shout for help and nobody helps you, ”recalls María. “It was five in the afternoon next to a park and no one helped us,” she adds. “We cannot talk about creating safe cities if we do not understand what are the elements that cause insecurity for women,” criticizes Sara Ortiz.

«The cities in which we live today are designed and made by men»

Josenia Hervas y Heras

Professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Alcalá de Henares

The cities in which we live today “are designed and made by men,” explains Josenia Hervás y Heras, professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Alcalá de Henares. In the words of the teacher, urban environments have been developed “to get to the work that passed over the streets as quickly as possible.” Now, “this type of construction has no place.”

The city with a gender perspective is linked to social, environmental and economic sustainability and, above all, to safety. In addition, “it takes into account all sensitivities”, points out Hervás and Heras. “Urbanism zoned and built by economic parcels does not make sense.”

“It’s not a crime”

Today and despite the fact that a large majority of women have suffered street harassment or know similar experiences of friends, these situations, in the less serious forms, are not sanctioned.We are not talking about sexual assault.what girls suffer most are offensive compliments or uncomfortable looks, ”Solórzano reveals to Anthropía.

Young women have come to normalize a reality that discriminates against them and makes them feel insecure and they tend to solve it individually. “We are susceptible to this type of violence such as a street compliment or normal things like someone making you feel uncomfortable, that will always live,” criticizes Raquel, a 31-year-old girl.

On average, only 3% denounce the authorities or security forces, and the experience remains in conversations with family or friends.

[Esta información se enmarca en el
Objetivo de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS) número 5].

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