When a group of men harassed one woman on her way to work, the experience left her in tears. However, she wasn’t about to take it lying down. Instead, she got her own back in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, most women will have experienced street harassment at least once in their lifetimes. It can come in the form of whistles, suggestive advances or even verbal or physical abuse. However, it’s nearly always an uncomfortable experience for the victim.
Recently, anti-harassment campaigners Hollaback! teamed up with Cornell University to research the issue, and what they found was utterly astounding. Out of 16,000 female respondents, 84 percent had suffered some sort of street harassment by the time they were 17.
Furthermore, 13 percent of respondents had actually been catcalled by the age of ten. And half of the women surveyed by the study said that they’d been fondled or groped. Needless to say, the issue is alarming.
One of the countries that came under the microscope in the study was the U.K. Research found that 90 percent of British women had experienced harassment before they reached adulthood. Furthermore, according to experts, women tend not to report abuse, fearing that their complaints won’t be treated seriously.
One woman who recently had a particularly awful experience of catcalling is Courtney Greatrex. Having originally come from Perth, Australia, Greatrex moved to London and studied at Goldsmiths University in the city.
Greatrex lives in the north of London in Finsbury Park. And she was walking to her local subway station one day in October 2016 when something caught her attention. There was a white van driving alongside her in slow traffic, and although it was only 7:30 in the morning, the men inside it were acting rowdily.
In fact, to her disbelief, the three men in the van were shouting at her and goading her. The men laughed at her and were ringing a bicycle bell and whistling at her to draw her attention to the van.
That’s when Greatrex took a closer look at the van. Emblazoned on the side of the vehicle was a large logo, and it featured the name of the company that the men worked for. Hence, she decided to take a picture of the van so that she could contact their employer.
However, as she pulled her phone out to take a photo, the situation escalated. Clearly the men in the van didn’t like the scene being documented, so as a result, their behavior became even more aggressive.
And while they attempted to conceal their faces from the camera, they still started shouting profanities at Greatrex. In fact, the situation grew so intimidating that it left the young woman in tears. However, she decided she wasn’t going to take the abuse she’d suffered lying down.
“It was awful, it was so distressing, I couldn’t stop crying,” Greatrex was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying. “I was also shaking with rage, it was 7:30 a.m. and I can’t even walk to work in jeans and a coat without people like this shouting at me.”
Consequently, she took to Facebook to name and shame the men who’d mistreated her. She wrote a post describing what had happened and how it made her feel, and attached to her account were pictures of the offenders in question.
“I heard a noise which sounded like a bike bell and saw three men in a marked company van trying to get my attention,” Metro quoted her as saying. “They kept making comments at me out of the window, so I told them it was harassment. The traffic was really slow-moving, so I couldn’t even get away from them. I felt trapped.”
“Don’t get me wrong, sexual harassment is alive and well in London and this happens most mornings,” she wrote at the end of her post. “But today I’m not accepting it. Don’t worry boys, wolf-whistling from your company car means your boss is about to find out all about it.”
And Greatrex wasn’t the only one to contact the men’s employer, Aqua Roofing. After sharing her post on Facebook, many of her friends and family also got in touch with the company. As a result, the firm had to act.
And thanks to Greatrex’s tenacity, Aqua Roofing reportedly sacked one of the men from the van. Furthermore, they said they were also investigating two other employees. It seemed, in this case at least, that people were finally understanding how serious catcalling can be.
“Everyone has been really supportive and agrees that their behavior was unacceptable,” the Daily Mail quoted Greatrex as saying. “There was no reason for it, even if they thought it was just ‘banter.’”
“I spoke to their boss, who dealt with it really well, but the company need to take ownership of the fact that these men were in a car marked with their details,” she added. “The company say they haven’t received a complaint like this before, but I might just be the first to stand up for myself and have evidence.”
Indeed, others may be too intimated to speak out against street harassment. But by sacking those responsible, the roofing company has set an example to others that catcalling is unacceptable. Hopefully, as more people do the same, no woman will have to endure this form of abuse in the future.