Taking Back the Streets with Chalk
Catcalls of London, Catcalls of Amsterdam and Catcalls of Paris were some of the first to launch. Soon after, Catcalls of Mauritius, Catcalls of Berlin, Catcalls of Mumbai. Catcalls of Iran. Catcalls of Cape Town, South Africa, and Catcalls of Dhaka, Bangladesh began . Now, there are over 100 programs around the world that also collect stories of harassment and document them on the streets. My idea, which I now call “Chalking Back,” has been a springboard for young activists around the world to fight back against harassment, creatively.
More than half of the women who run these programs are under the age of 18, and 88% of people are under the age of 25. They represent a wide variety of racial and religious groups and, because of them, what was originally a class project has become a global movement. The bravery and commitment of everyone involved in “Chalk Back” has built this movement from the ground up.
Last week, I graduated from New York University (NYU) with a degree in Gender and Sexuality, and after working on this project for three years as a full-time student, I have decided to commit my time to turning “Chalk Back” into an international non-profit to provide additional resources for the movement which will allow it to grow.
Hollaback and Safecity websites warn women about street harassment locations. Mexico City ranked worst in a survey of 16 international cities for harassment on public transportation. In response, a city program gives whistles to women to break the silence and some young women video record harassment and post it on the Las Morras YouTube channel. Another Mexican feminist group confronts harassment with loud punk music and shooting a confetti cannon at the perpetrator. UN Women’s “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls” program advocates more women-only buses and train cars, similar those found in India, Egypt, Iran, UAE, Indonesia, and so on.
Lauren Ferreira Cardoso, “Street Harassment is a Public Health Problem,” The Conversation, March 19, 2017.