Street Harassement In Ivory Coast: A Form of Violence Ignored

Do you think it is normal and right to leave your house and feel afraid to walk on the street ?

Wether you are a man or a woman, I believe that you wish to be free anywhere you are from any movement, the most mundane movements when you are in street. You probably want to feel safe.

But alas, this safety and freedom to walk the streets without being assaulted, without beeing constantly harassed seems a luxury for many women in the world. In Ivory Coast, women are almost constantly confronted with street harassment wich very often turns into verbal, physical and sexual assault.

But, in what consists of  street harasmment and how it can affect mental health of womens?

Street harassment is a form of harassment that consists of unwanted flirtatious comments, provocative gestures, honking, wolf-whistlings, indecent exposures, stalking, persistent sexual advances, and touching by strangers, in public areas such as streets, shopping malls and public transportation. According to Havard Law Review(1993), street harassment is considered harassment done primarly by male strangers to female in public places . We can give more differents definitions but we must remember that street harassment is so oppressive by the victims. Street harassment is harassment, street harassment can be traumactic.

By these definitions we can see how persecuting it is to find yourself constantly in the throes of inappropriate remarks.

In Ivory Coast, western country of Africa as many country of Africa, violence against wonens are neglected and trivialzed. Street harassment is more normalized, it is considered as a joke or a prank. Bad prank for all victims. When a victim dares to complain, she is accused of woman who knows nothing about humor. Funny humor, can’t you find? Really, it is not funny.

Writing this article I remember all the times I has been harassed in the street. I remember how during shopping a man pulled my dress. I was so shocked that no words could come out of my mouth. I was petrified. I remember again how a man verbally assaulted me because I didn’t say hello to him. Do you realize that in midst of a large number of passers-by, a man because holding a phallus require greetings from woman in the middle of the street. Almost all women in Ivory Coast experience this form of harassment.

 The worse ,some men dare to ejaculate on women in buses .But as always this is taken as a joke . In the capital Abidjan, a young girl has been victim of this horror and fortunately it was shared on social networks to alert about this type of danger in buses. Other female wictims were so able to testify and declared having nightmares and beeing stressed at the idea of using public transport.

Street harassment is neither foreseen nor punished by penal code. This issue seems hopeless for victims. In fact, a victim has a very low or even non-existent chance of beeing listened to if they go to police authorities to complain about this embarrassing and oppressive attitude committed by some men.

Until this subject is taken seriously by the authorities, feminist groups continue to raise awareness on social networks and also help victims  who have difficulty leaving their homes to have psychological support.

A woman should’nt feel guilty for going out, for walking, for just getting fresh air. But patriarch does not stop to attack women. So we say STOP, we want safer streets for ourselves, for our sisters, for our friends, for our daugthers, for the future generation quite simply. A single place where the woman is not free, is not happy is bad for a more just and egalitarian world.Street harassment is violence. It can take on dramactic proportions. Let’s talk about it, it should not be overlooked.

About the Author:

Audrey Dongo was born in Ivory Coast and still living there. She is preparing a Master’s degree in Business Law. Since childhood, she dreamed to be committed on one human cause and finally chose to be committed to feminine cause because inequalities between women and men destroy women life everyday. She wants better life conditions for next generation. Politics4her is for her a great way to be more engaged.

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