The Streets That Haunt Us

How safe do we consider ourselves to be? To where do we draw the line of defining something as “harmless?”

When violations to human dignity, which are recognized by the public, demand major effort in being addressed, it makes me wonder how much is necessary in solving a transgression which majority do not even consider as serious issue. An example of such is street harassment or commonly called “catcalling.”

Photo from animalnewyork.com

Public sexual violence compromises unwanted comments and threatening gestures forced on a stranger without consent. This societal offense continues to haunt almost every Filipino citizen regardless of gender, location or circumstance. It is a tragedy that because it is so commonly seen and experienced that most people just shrug it off or are afraid to speak up.

As more people voice out their sentiments and harrowing experiences, efforts are being done including the formation of various governing bodies, execution of sustainable programs and the implementation of policies such as the Republic Act 7877, the Republic Act 9262; and recently, the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017. Although studies show that most victims are women, I believe it is the high time everyone realizes that men can also become targets.

Public harassment affects us all. Addressing it is vital not because women are standing up to it but because every single one of us has a right to be respected regardless of sexual orientation. It requires the collective and interrelated effort of every person in order to change the status quo.

Solutions mostly focused on project implementation and public education has been put into action nationwide. I, too, think that the power of advocacy and awareness should never be underestimated.

However, for someone whose expertise lies in creating, I believe there are better and more engaging ways to do it especially in a highly globalized society like ours. Nowadays, anything can be shared across the globe anytime; therefore, different types of modern media such as print (online or offline), films, photographs, and software provide a strong and effective platform for advocating a wider and more diverse audience.

In our community development efforts involving children and their families, my line of work mainly involves multimedia production. I personally experienced how creative content has provided our initiatives with greater impact, helped our resources grow, and led us to achieving our goals. Although the work that goes into sharing a simple truth may be rigorous, the results are more extensive and highly visible. It does not just inform but it generates a dialogue which encourages people from different walks of life to do something significant. These contents represent the reality of things and it becomes an important part of history. The power of media and storytelling in breaking the cycle and engaging people is truly precious.

Now more than ever is the right time to take action towards this shared unspoken fear. It is a global issue. It is happening every day. It remains unsettling and something needs to be done.

Written by Omayyah Macabato, a current intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office.