A dreaded experience for women

2014-11-24 00:00

THE viral video of a woman being cat-called in New York was redone by The Witness on KZN streets and results were shocking.

A walk through town on a shopping trip or a casual stroll is a harrowing experience for any woman.

Whether women are dressed in jeans and a jersey or a shorts and a tank top, they are plagued endlessly by crude gestures and comments.

Pietermaritzburg local Melanie dos Santos said she didn’t walk around town often but when she did, she was bombarded with ­cat-calls.

“Some are innocent but some are extremely rude and persistent. It makes me feel cheap and like a piece of meat.”

Walking down Church Street in Pietermaritzburg is a dreaded trip for many women, especially for those who work in stores in town.

Jet store cashier Thabi Mtolo said she hates the sounds and names men call her.

“It makes us all feel bad. It happens so often but I just ignore it,” said Mtolo.

In the Durban central business district (CBD) things are just as bad.

Anwen Middleton, who works in the CBD, said she faces all sorts of unwanted comments from men. “It’s generally worse when there is a crowd of people together.

“Just two weeks ago, a man called and then began to follow me and I put my head down and walked faster,” she said.

Middleton said the way men treated women was not fair and every time someone made a comment, she felt irritated and dirty.

“I don’t think men have a right to be rude to women because they’re walking alone,” she said.

Philippa Florous is an IT specialist who often gets cat-called when road running.

“Men hoot and whistle when I run and it’s not like I’m putting myself out there for them to make these comments. I suspect it’s an ego thing from their side.”

She said these comments are never ­compliments.

“No one wants to feel cheap. These men are classless and tacky,” she said.

In Durban:

In Pietermaritzburg:

Cat-calls are a regular occurrence on the streets of Durban.

PHOTO: Matthew Middleton

Durban reporter Rumana Akoob took to the streets for 45 minutes to find out if she too would be subjected to harassment.

“Just as I waited to cross the street, a male driver rubbernecked and stared but that was the first of countless belittling gestures and comments I received from men, both young and old,” she said.

Throughout the walk in the Durban CBD, eight men made direct comments on her ­appearance or tried to talk to her, she reported.

As Pietermaritzburg reporter Chelsea Pieterse climbed out of her car in Church Street, she was greeted by three men saying, “Hello ­mlungu.”

As she walked down the street, she was faced with comments such as “Hey honey, I love you,” as well as, “Hey! You!”

A man even followed her for a few metres, asking if she was still in school, stating that she “looked cute,” and he “cared” about her.

The reporter eventually had to duck into a store to get away from the man.

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