A few weeks ago a good friend of mine shared with me a harrowing ordeal she went through while walking home from university one day.
While walking (and might I add minding her own business) she noticed a man walking not too far behind her. The street was largely deserted but for the two of them.
Feeling unsafe, she decided to pick up her pace but to her dismay the man behind her also started walking a lot faster too. At this point, desperate to not assume the worst but still wanting to feel secure, she crossed the road.
You guessed it.
The man also crossed the road, walking uncomfortably close to my friend who at this point already has thoughts that she might get raped, robbed, kidnapped, or physically harmed.
Then she finally succumbed to her feelings of fear and started crying. The man started laughing at her as it's clear that she's visibly shaken before walking away.
Her experience is just one example of the many women go through while walking alone or even in pairs or groups in the street. Constantly looking over our shoulders to make sure we're going to survive the walk.
This is exactly why I celebrate this new Australian ad campaign called Walk Like A Woman which was launched by women's rights group called Plan International. According to 3AW693 News talk, the ad highlights the struggles of being a woman and going out about our business in the streets and even in places like the store.
It encourages men to put themselves in a woman's shoes and provides them with seven tips when walking in the street to help women feel safe and comfortable around them. Read the tips below.
1. Keep your distance
2. Don't run up from behind
3. Don't stare
4. Keep your comments to yourself
5. Keep your mates in line
6. Be an active bystander
7. Share the walk
Emily Maguire, CEO at Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, told Neil Mitchell on 3AW, the tips were most important for good men, because they’re the least likely to realise they pose a threat. “Most men don’t hurt women and most men do really want to make sure that they are not a threat to other women, and that women feel safe around them,” she said.
“Even if most men know they aren’t going to do anything, that doesn’t stop women being afraid. If all you need to do is drop back a few paces, or to pretend you’re talking on your phone, or cross the road, that doesn’t sound to me like a big ask.
And I agree with her wholeheartedly.
While it's the saddest thing that we as women still feel so unsafe in broad daylight out in public spaces, it is reassuring to see ad campaigns such as this one, which are trying to combat a global problem. Maybe someone in SA will work on something with the same effective message for our country.
Watch the ad below.
What are your thoughts on the #WLAW ad campaign? Do you think it it would translate well if used in SA? Share your thoughts with us here.
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