Women around the world are often harassed while walking on streets, which can include unwanted whistling, sexist slurs, repeatedly asking for numbers or names after being told no, sexual demands or comments, flashing, and groping. This street harassment can be traumatizing for women and can decrease feelings of safety amongst women (understandably so).
Street harassment of women happens all around the world, including the U.S.; 65% of women in the U.S. reported street harassment. A recent article by NPR looks at how street harassment may be different in the Middle East compared to other regions of the world.
Contrary to what one might think, in several Middle Eastern countries younger men with secondary-level (i.e., high school) education were more likely sexually harass women compared to older, less educated men.
As the article notes, there may be unique factors about being a young man in the Middle East that is contributing to the harassing behaviors including high unemployment rates, political instability, and experiencing stress, depression, and shame due to not being able to provide for their families.
In addition, up to 90 percent of the men who sexually harass women stated that they do it for fun and excitement, which is a reason reportedly given across the globe for harassment.
Street harassment is thankfully getting increased attention as video campaigns vividly illustrate the daily experiences of women. As noted by Stop Street Harassment, a nonprofit that aims to end gender-based street harassment, harassment can also occur due to factors such as a person's race, nationality, religion, disability, and/or class. For example, there have been some important discussions happening regarding the unique experiences of street harassment for women of color.
Interventions that target bullying should similarly be able to target street harassment by focusing on empathy and understanding of the other individual's experience and learning appropriate ways to communicate with others. Most bullying interventions target children, but the prevalence of street harassment suggests that high school students and perhaps college students should get a refresher course on how to treat other people with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
Article link: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/06/15/532977361/why-do-men-harass-women-new-study-sheds-light-on-motivations
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