Campaign aims to silence catcalling on Tucson's streets
Project also looks to protect vulnerable teens who are victims of threats, violence
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Catcalling, yelling, honking and harassing. It's not anything new on Tucson’s streets and some consider it a fact of life. But a local group is taking a stand against it -- especially serious forms like groping and threats -- by ramping up awareness of its anti-catcall campaign.
“People just whistle or yell random things to get your attention,” one woman told 9 On Your Side, describing her experiences.
9OYS asked another woman, “What goes through your mind?”
“You kind of get mad," she said. "Why are they doing that to you?”
“I just ignore it and I keep walking,” another person said.
It's easy to ignore for some. They describe it as a nuisance but a fact of life.
The Safe Streets Arizona
campaign wants the public to consider what it's like for others who may be catcalling targets because of they are, what they look like or what people think of them. It gave the examples of a single woman walking home at night, a teenage same-sex couple or a transgender youth.
"Harassment shouldn’t be something that you just have to 'put up with' or 'get over,' by virtue of your sexual orientation, appearance, or gender," Safe Streets states on its website
“If you haven't experienced street harassment, you don't understand how frightening it is. What a personal attack it can feel like,” said organizer Rowan Frost, who works for the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault. The center runs the project.
Rowan said that harassment could be swearing, sexual advances, groping or threats.
Safe Streets aims to get people to speak up to end the abuse. When it happens to a person, he or she can report it online, by phone or through a text message, among other ways. The group keeps track of people's experiences and stories on an interactive map online
Here's one story from an anonymous 16-year-old girl near Craycroft and 22nd:
"I was walking home from school and a grown man asked me if I wanted a ride home. I said no. He drove around the corner and came back where I was and asked me again and I still said no."
Participants receive support and the education they need to stay safe in these situations.
“I think that they feel like nothing can be done,” Frost said. “I think that once people do start stepping up and realizing, 'If I say something, things can change.'”
That change has come. Frost gave the example of a Tucsonan harassed by construction workers last month. Frost called the company, which promised it wouldn't happen again.
“An entire construction site changed because one woman stepped up and said, 'This was really awful,'” Frost said.
What do you think of the campaign? Do you think it can make a difference? Do you have an experience to share? Join the conversation on the 9 On Your Side Facebook page.