Tuesday 19th April: A simple Twitter hashtag exposes a world of sexual harassment and abuse as women contribute their stories on the social-media site.
Started as part of a campaign by Everyday Sexism, the hashtag became the catalyst for thousands of stories, including those that occurred to women as young as primary school age.
This came after the government announced an inquiry into sexual violence and harassment in schools; an issue which the Everyday Sexism project feels has been “overlooked for too long”.
These stories are not easy to tell. But in a society where 84% of women are catcalled before the age of 17, they are incredibly common.
No one stood up for some of these children. Friends and family denied any molestation took place. Girls were told they were overreacting or basically asking for it. Some women tell of how they were too scared or even ashamed to speak up as children.
Some women are sharing their stories for the first time. There’s strength in numbers.
I don’t want to make this about me, but I too have experienced this type of harassment.
I remember walking with friends at 10 and having white vans slow down whilst drivng past us. I remember being just 13 and being catcalled from building sites. I remember the twisting sensation in my stomach as I struggled with being slightly flattered (in my insecure, almost pre-teen mind) and knowing how wrong it was. I remember being 17 and being made to hold my driving instructor’s hand because I ‘had to learn to drive with one hand on the wheel’. I remember being 20 and having my crotch grabbed as I made my way up the stairs to the VIP area at a club. I remember being 24 and being called an ugly slut because I didn’t respond to “Hey sexy! Come and sit on my face!” from a 15-year-old.
NO WOMAN, or MAN for that matter, is alone in this struggle.
Let’s break the cycle.