Today I want to share with you a topic that, as a Peace Corps volunteer living in Ethiopia, is very near and dear to my heart: Harassment.
Danielle, a PCV living in Tigray, wrote an amazing post last week called On Being Hated. Writing a post like that is difficult and emotionally draining (I’ve tackled this topic before and it took me 4 months to post), but her post couldn’t be more accurate. Danielle writes:
I’m legitimately afraid of who I’m becoming, of the gentle self I may have lost, of the thoughts that run through my head, of the comments I make about Ethiopia, about Ethiopians. I am angry. Most of the time I feel like a burning ball of hate. I feel unfairly wounded, and feel the need to fight back. I don’t feel the same loving person that I arrived. And I feel alone in this.
Her post gives a small bit of insight to the stress and unhappiness most female PCVs deal with here on a daily basis. It’s exhausting to put up a brave face every day when your friends tell you to “Izosh” (Stay Strong), laugh or tell you that “it doesn’t matter.”
It does matter. We matter. Street harassment is a reality that women have to deal with globally, no matter if the development level of the country you live in.
This week is Anti-Street Harassment Week. I love the posters that Tatyana at Stop Telling Women to Smile created below (as well as the video that was featured on her Kickstarter campaign about taking her project across the US).
Additionally, some women in Ethiopia maintain a blog called Creepiothia about the men who harass women on the street here in an attempt to publicly shame them. By reading the description you’ll realize that these men KNOW it’s wrong, yet they continue to do it anyway.
So whether you are a man or a woman, if you see someone being harassed on the street this week, do humankind a favor and say something. Every person should be able to leave their home and feel safe and comfortable on the street. Let’s make this world a better place for all of us.