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Last night the Director of Hollaback! Melbourne, Alanna Inserra, was on ABC’s 7.30 programme speaking about the effect of the rape and murder of Jill Meagher upon Melbourne women, and commenting on the difference between formal and substantive equality. Watch the piece, hosted by Louise Milligan, over on ABC iview.
There can be no substantive equality for women until we can move as freely through the public space as men do. The fear of being raped and murdered is reinforced when we are sent the message that our bodies our public property, a message reinforced by ‘low-level’ violence such as street harassment. If you want to read Hollaback! Melbourne’s reflections from September last year on how what was done to Jill affected Melbourne women, click here.
When we are wolf-whistled at, shouted at, insulted, stalked, stared at and groped in public we are being told of our vulnerability. We are being told that we are viewed as objects, as prey, as less than human. When people do not intervene out of fear we are sent the implicit message that society does not care. This is why giving voice to individual experience is so important. That is why Hollaback! Melbourne exists – to give women and bystanders an opportunity to voice experiences which are too frequently dismissed as part and parcel of being a woman.
When you read through the stories on this site many things become clear – that street harassment is a universal experience for women, that we engage cautiously in the public space to attempt to avoid harassment, and that many women live in fear. Other things become clear too – that we fight back, that we survive, that people can activate on our behalves and be great bystanders. Read these stories. They will inspire you.
The stories on this site are harrowing and inspirational. Add your voice to those rising against street harassment here. The more stories we collect the closer we are to building a profile of where street harassment is most prevalent in Melbourne, and what the severity of that harassment is. Once we have this research we can start to agitate politically for real change.
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