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There is nothing ‘casual’ about unwanted groping.
For the past year, I have been living in the extraordinary city of Istanbul, the city that sprawls across two continents and is home to one of the most beautiful skylines in the world.As a 24 year old western female, I am, however, unfortunately pre disposed to experience another more seedy side to the city and its culture.
Sexual harassment is endemic in Istanbul. The vast majority of my female expat friends here have complained about being inappropriately touched, not to mention enduring endless predatory stares and persistent sexual invitations. I have lost track of the angry rants we’ve had over tea and baklava, about this so-called ‘casual groping’.The scariest thing is that, due to the scale of the situation, both men and women have come to accept this behaviour as commonplace.
The situation is worsened by Istanbul’s overwhelming population. It becomes immediately evident the moment you set foot in to one of the bustling bazaars, or takepublic transport around the city. Getting a seat on a bus is a luxury, and breathing space on a busy tram is a privilege few are granted.Of course, this is all part and parcel of the city, and the travelling experience itself.
But busy areas are a playground for those looking for a good grope.
When you realise, whilst crammed on rush hour public transport, that what your thought was someone’s shopping bag poking your leg is actually an erection, (sometimes accompanied by a suggestive grin)…it becomes whole lot less enjoyable.
Despite being undoubtedly fed by sexual oppression, this type of harassment isn’t solely carried out through carnal desire. It derives from gender inequality, and the way women are often objectified and ‘owned’ by men.
We, as women often feel victimised by being inappropriately touched, yet rarely react, rather keep quiet and hope the journey is over quickly. In turn, this acts as a green light for the men doing the groping.
The high rate of sexual harassment on a ‘minor’ level, and its repeated acceptance, has led to a culture that wallows in tolerance of these violations.
Istanbul would not be the city it is without the hustle and bustle; its chaos defines it and makes it memorable to those who visit. But this should not come hand in hand with someone making sexual gestures at you on the bus to work or trying to grope your crotch whilst you buy Turkish Delight at your local bazaar.
This habit of sexual pestering should be aggressively tackled, or Istanbul’s reputation of a magnificent, historical city risks being preceded by one of wandering hands and leering eyes.
Check out Canimiz Sokakta Kacie Kocher at the Tedx Reset this April in Istanbul, speaking on gender, choice, and the role of foreigners. Watch it, tweet it, share it. All of us at Canimiz Sokakta are super proud!
Check it out 10- 10:30 Istanbul time Saturday April 13! Livestream here
It’s finally April! We are promoting Anti-Street Harassment Awareness this month! All around the world, men and women will raise their voices against street harassment! Check out some great anti-harassment messages here, and get i
nvolved! Be a part of this movement by joining the international Hollaback! Tumblr campaign; write down your message, take a picture of it and send it to Istanbul@ihollaback.org.
Did you miss this earlier this year? We made it in the international Hollaback’s “A Week in Our Shoes” where the international Hollaback, where they highlight groundbreaking accomplishments for their sites around the world. What did we do you ask? Programs Director Ezgi Cincin joined journalist Alyson Neel to discuss street harassment on Ahaber. Watch the video here.
We’re pleased to announce that Hollaback! Istanbul / Canimiz Sokakta founder, Kacie Lyn Kocher, is speaking at the Tedx Reset Lecture “Do We Really Choose” on April 13th, 2013. There’s still tickets available here, or watch the livestream here. Congratulations, Kacie!
Check out our friends SPOD: http://www.facebook.com/spod.lgbt1 . They’re a young group of activists, scholars, and students who’ve come together to make social change, tolerance, and equality. Stop by their event Friday April 5th to support their cause and have some fun.
Longtime Canimiz Sokakta friend Cat of Balyolu writes about her experiences of street harassment in the east of Turkey and offers a few ideas for gradually making it better.
So how do we make Turkey – forget Turkey – EVERYWHERE a safer place? Cease-fires and economic development are good, peace resolutions and lifting economic sanctions are fine and dandy, but we need to start as communities and individuals making our immediate neighborhoods and bus routes and roadsides safer for women. We start by caring about the people around us and by speaking up when we need help.
Full story at Inspired Beeing.
Anti-Street Harassment Week is less than a month away! Across the world, people are coming together to stand up against harassment and form a community of tolerance, respect, and change. We want to put Istanbul on the map again, but we need your help. What types of things do you want to see? What events would you participate in? Do you have a few extra hours to volunteer with us? Contact us and spread the word or check out more information here.
In Iran a woman has been reported to have beat up a cleric who asked her to cover herself up. Since the revolution of 1979, women are asked to cover their hair and body curves with loose clothing and police patrol the streets to protect religious values and “preserve society’s morals and security”. More on the story here
New research shows that women speak less than men when a group collaborates to solve a problem. The amount of time that women spoke in group projects was significantly less than their proportional representation – adding to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke. “When women participated more, they brought unique and helpful perspectives to the issue under discussion,” researcher Karpowitz said. “We’re not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation.” Read more about the research here.
Here is the story of a young egyptian woman who was brutally killed after reacting to a man groping her in the street. Street harassment has lately become a major issue in post-revolution Egypt and activists are demanding to be heard: the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights already sent a draft law to the president but has yet to receive an answer.no comments
CATCALLED is a writing project about street harassment that took place in New York in August 2012. During 2 weeks, participants wrote daily posts about their experiences of harassment. Currently it’s still going strong with pieces about women’s vulnerability, power, objectification and safety in the street.
Check it out at http://catcalled.tumblr.com/no comments