Two readers from abroad have chatted to us about the sexual harassment they face in their home counties and compare it to life in the UK.
You hurry out of work, excited to get ready for the night out you’ve been planning for ages. As you open your car door, you hear another passing by. “Hey, sexy, need a lift?”
‘Ew. Why did he say that? That’s disgusting.’ The man inside looks older than you.
“Sweetheart I can help you drive that ass home…” He smirks and you mutter a quick
‘No, thanks’, getting in your car as quickly as possible. ‘Ew. Ew. Ew.’
You reach home, still feeling grossed out, but as you put that little cocktail dress from ASOS on you remember you are a sass queen that can do anything. And a night out is in store – no reason to sulk because of a stranger with a loose tongue and inflated self-esteem.
The music in the club is booming. One, two step and you are on the dance floor. A nice looking guy is next to you and a few seconds later your eyes meet. ‘Okay, he is not that cute.’ As you try to sway yourself away from him, you feel a hand on your waist.
You try to move to the right to avoid that sweaty palm. As he feels you are not appreciating his advances, he spits out ‘Bitch’ and goes on to pester another girl. ‘Yeah thanks. That was well deserved, jerk.’
You finally sit down for a drink. Damn, this was a shitty evening. Sometimes you wish you were born with a dick.
A day like that would be hell. So what would you do if you lived in a country where every day was like this for women? Feel stressed? Give up? Or steamroll every issue like the super-girl you are? Two international twenty-something girls share their daily struggle at home, how they overcame them and how the UK compares.
Evelyn, Romania, 20, International Relations and Politics student
As a girl in Romania, I get catcalled. A lot. When I am walking down the street, when I am grocery shopping, when I’m out with my girls. It does happen in the UK too but not to that extent, trust me.
I was 17 and walking on a street I knew very well. I was on my way to my dentist appointment and completely focused on my thoughts. I was walking quite close to the road so when someone grabbed my arm I was forcefully shaken out of my little world.
A car had slowed down and a man had reached out. He was much older. I thought his smile was creepy when he asked me if I wanted a ride. I stepped back but he wouldn’t quit. He said my boobs looked nice.
I could tell him I was underage. The punishments for harassing teenagers are quite harsh in Romania. You could get years in jail and luckily that day I was still 17.
I was getting quite scared. I could scream. There was always a police car nearby, they would save me. He wouldn’t get away as police was quite strict.
But instead I just stood there, paralysed. He kept complimenting different parts of my body when a group of people finally appeared. There was a lady with a red sweater that looked at me. Her eyes were asking me if I needed help.
I felt safer. I wasn’t by myself. I felt like screaming “Leave me alone!” but I just continued walking. I had somewhere to be so I hurried past him, my heart still trying to punch a hole in my chest. It was beating so fast. I thought it was a crazy thing to happen in a civilized country.
Only after moving to the UK did I realise how bad catcalling is in Romania.
Truckers here are just as vocal but never did anyone attempt to touch me. I gained confidence. If I managed then, I could manage with whatever the future had for me. So now when someone calls out to me from a car, I shoot him a deadly look. Or I just ignore him out of existence.
I do wonder from time to time why men have this urge. I guess it makes them feel strong, bold and confident. But to me it just seem like they have no manners, or are just plain scary.
Like this? You should read: What to do if you think you’ve been sexually assaulted