When I was in high school I had to take the bus to go to school. Especially in the morning, the bus was very crowded and people were often standing very close to each other. It was my first time taking the bus on my own in a big city and I didn’t know that harassment was so common. During one of those busy mornings, I was standing in the middle of the aisle on the bus and I felt someone behind me pressed against my butt. I thought it was just because of the crowd that he had to stay so close to me, but then I realised that he was intentionally rubbing his pants against my ass. I was disgusted and shocked, but I didn’t say anything. I just tried to move away from him as much as I could and left the bus at the next stop. After this episode I became paranoid and every time I’d feel that someone was just a little too close to me on the bus I would freak out and I had to make sure that I wasn’t being harassed again. It happened more than once, either someone was touching me or intentionally getting closer.
Another time, I was on a train sitting next to the window and there was a man in front of me. I didn’t pay attention to him as I was listening to music and looking outside. At some point, I noticed that he was staring at me but I kept ignoring him. A little later my eyes fell on him again and I saw that he had one of his hands inside his pants and he was masturbating. Once again, I was shocked and I pretended that nothing was happening, I left my seat and changed wagon.
When I was 19, I went on holiday with my friends. On our way back we made a stop in a city nearby and parked our car behind a big train station. We were on the sidewalk trying to get to the main square. We saw a car moving slowly next to us, the man inside was looking at us, we ignored him and kept walking. A few minutes later we saw him again, this time he stopped as the traffic light was red. We didn’t understand why he was there again, as we looked at him more carefully we saw that his pants were unbuttoned and he was touching himself. We immediately started running and entered the nearest local shop to hide from him.
I don’t think that it’s fair that so many women have to go through similar things in their lives, street harassment has become so common that it’s almost considered a normal experience for most women.
Things like that certainly don’t happen to men so why do we need to stand all of this in silence?