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Tired of Street Harassment? Here’s Something You Can Do

One sunny, spring afternoon, I ran through a neighborhood near my college. Lost in my thoughts, I was startled to hear, “I like how your tits bounce when you run,” from a white guy in his 20s who was standing on a driveway with his friends. My initial shock at hearing such vulgar language was quickly followed by strong feelings of horror, humiliation, and anger. I slowed my pace and turned around to glare at them. They continued laughing. I resumed my run, blushing with fury and mortification. The words and laughter echoing in my mind ruined the rest of my day.

This story describes only one of the hundreds of times when men I do not know have harassed me in public. Street harassment has ranged from creepy leers to sexually explicit comments, from being followed and chased to being sexually grabbed. Street harassment has made me change my routine, my habits, and even impacted where I chose to live as an adult.

One of our most basic rights should be the right to walk down the street safely, without facing harassment, yet that is a right that many of us are routinely denied all over the world, from big city streets to rural roads, from public shopping centers to refugee camps.

Limited research shows that at least 80 percent of women worldwide have experienced gender-based street harassment, including unwanted leering, “catcalls,” sexually explicit comments, demands for a smile, groping, stalking, public masturbation, and ...

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