Society is finally coming to terms with the fact that catcalling and street harassment isn't just about a man whistling at a woman walking down the street. It's a type of violent intrusion that women experience that makes them feel powerless, fear physical violence, endure threats, ridiculed with name-calling, being stalked, and even being raped.
It's scary and it's not okay, which is why one man from Costa Rica decided to capture a street harassment scene on his mobile phone in efforts to bring awareness to this issue.
Gerardo Cruz, a
22-year-old man living in Costa Rica, was walking down the street when he
noticed a man following a young woman and trying to use his phone to film
up her skirt. Not only did Cruz record the entire thing but he also
followed and confronted the older man. The video has gone viral and made Cruz an instant hero among anti-street harassment activists. We only wish this story ended happily, but unfortunately it
Cruz was stabbed by unknown assailants on his
way to a television interview to talk about his video and died in the hospital.
We still don't know who the killers are, or if the stabbing had anything to
do with the viral video, but regardless people are angry. He was making an effort to expose a worldwide issue that's repeatedly ignored, especially in Latin
"It's important that people begin to recognize that street harassment isn't wanted, that it generates fear and insecurity for women," Ana Gabriela Gonzalez, a representative of Costa Rica's National Institute for Women, told Al Jazeera.
Though we still have a very long way to go, protests and videos like these are proof that people recognize this as a real problem. There was a viral video campaign that hit the Internet in 2014 called "Sílbale a tu Madre" or "Catcall your mother" inspired by Peruvian singer and actress, Magaly Solier's personal street harassment experience. It then lead Peru to outlaw street harassment, and countries like Chile, Panama, Argentina, and even Costa Rica are looking to legislate similar laws.
There's been a lot of talk surrounding the subject in the States too, with movements like artist Mirabelle Jones' "To Skin a Catcaller" art display, and that infamous video of a woman that endured 10 hours of sexual harassment just walking the streets of New York City.
These movements are necessary to convey the message that
catcalling is not harmless, it's not a compliment, and it's not something that
should be overlooked. It's misogynistic, it's dangerous and it NEEDS to end!