“He could just move his hand; one inch and it would touch me, it would go places it does not have the right to”.

“He could take one step forward and I would be able to feel his indecent, patriarchal breath against my skin”

These are the thoughts that have constantly run through my mind whilst being alone in my own country. Even with a friend. And I am 100% sure that many girls and many people can relate to this. Instead of being a problem – it has become a part of our culture that cat-calling and street harassment occur on the daily.

Doesn’t it seem sad that women, girls, and even children have to face the screeching calls of indecent men on the streets of their own hometown?

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous that people who have lived here all their lives, have to feel unsafe in their own country?

Doesn’t it seem insane how a girl has to feel paranoid every, single, time she is waiting in line and there is a man behind her?

It infuriates me to the very core that I hear about people experiencing this, that I have to experience this myself. We all say, “It happens, it’s nothing new” – and I assure you, that is not us flaunting how we look. The very experience shakes us, scares us – everyone reacts differently but there will always be that feeling of fear and paranoia.

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This is something that happens all the time because these men have not been educated enough to understand that it is wrong to objectify a woman like that. They have not been educated enough to understand that you cannot equate the value of a female to a piece of meat.

57% of women have experienced verbal harassment. 41% of women have experienced physical harassment.

MY NAME ISN’T BABY. MY NAME ISN’T NANGI.

I DID NOT INVITE THIS ATTENTION.

MY CLOTHES DO NOT GIVE YOU CONSENT.

LET ME WEAR MY SKINNY JEANS AND WHITE T-SHIRT IN PEACE.

LET ME WALK DOWN THE GODDAMN STREET WITHOUT BEING UNDRESSED WITH YOUR FILTHY EYES.

These men, these boys – create a bad name for Sri Lankan males in general, and they do not even realize it. It is these same men and boys that are oh-so-patriotic, and the ones that praise our land for its magnificent culture and beauty. Yet, they do not know that people abroad understand and despise the culture of cat-calling that is famous within our own country because that is the impression that they have created.

I will never be able to comprehend how one can think that a girl is genuinely going to find them charming or attractive if that is how they approach them, nor will I be able to understand what it is that runs through their minds when they make these heinous decisions – are they trying to make the girl feel insecure and paranoid? If they think it makes the girl feel sexy and attractive, I can assure you – it does not. It is anything but that.

Enough of this rant, my point is that it’s street harassment, it’s that simple.

It’s disgusting that people find the need to even carry out these actions. They don’t even realize the impact that they have on these girls, and it sucks that they have that power.

However, if this happens to you-you can do one of two things; either you can let the fear and paranoia take control of you (I know, it takes some time to get over, I understand) or you can tell these creeps to fuck off because they have no right to objectify you at all.

Tell someone. Keep someone on the phone with you. Whatever makes you feel safer. Just know, that they hold no power over you unless you let them.

I am ashamed to say that this has become a part of our culture, that it is almost normalized because it happens so frequently. It should not be. This is not normal. This is not boys charmingly calling girls cute. Don’t mistake this for a compliment.

Please stand up for this, create awareness. This has to stop.

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This is street harassment, it’s that simple.

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