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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 24 April, 2014

“Keep walking, I’m gonna rape you” – Irish street harassment stories shared on Hollaback

Since its launch earlier this month, women have shared experiences of being jeered at, physically picked up by strangers and threatened with rape.

FILE.
FILE.
Image: Shutterstock

IRISH PEOPLE HAVE been sharing their stories of street harassment on the Hollaback website, saying they have been jeered at, physically lifted up by strangers and threatened with rape.

The stories are shared on the website at dublin.ihollaback.org, which is the latest addition to the international site that originated in the USA. Hollaback is for women, men and members of the LGBTQ community to share their experiences of street harassment

Aimée Doyle, PRO for Dublin Hollaback, told TheJournal.ie that they were delighted with the response since the site went live. “We are getting stories emailed to us constantly which is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “People are really taking it on board.”

She said that from the “I’ve got your back” feedback left in response to the comments, “you can see a lot of people are listening to them and empathising with them”.

Image: http://dublin.ihollaback.org/

“Obviously myself and the other organisations, we all knew this sort of thing happens – it happened to us everyday day,” continued Doyle.

A lot of people have not realised the severity of what is happening and how pervasive it is. Because it is so normal, they don’t realise it is happening as much.

She said that as street harassment isn’t as common among men, the responses from male friends included that “they didn’t realise how extensive it is; how serious it is; how intimidating it is” until they read the site.

What of those who suggest that street harassment isn’t a major issue? “We have come across that opinion from certain areas, and certain areas online,” said Doyle.

I think now that stories have started to be posted up, people are realising it’s not a small little trivial thing, they are realising the extent of it. People are probably taking the site a bit more seriously now that they can see exactly what we are about.

Doyle said there are a few stories sent in every day, and they are growing in numbers. The stories are vetted before they go online

There appears to have been a major change in how people speak about very personal experiences in Ireland in recent years. “There are an awful lot of stories at the moment, people sharing harassment, assault [stories]… its all to do with consent, abuse of power,” said Doyle. “I would like to think that it is a moment where change will start, where we will start to change from now.”

“I think this is a year for women’s experiences, and the rights of women, to do with every aspect of life.”

Sharing stories

Here are two of the recent stories posted on Hollaback’s Dublin site:

Vanessa’s story:

It was late at night and I was alone and lost when I turned a corner to see two men walking toward me. “I’m going to pick you up,” one said as he walked up to me, wrapped his arms around my legs, and lifted me in the air. I struggled and pleaded with him to put me down, and when he eventually did, he gripped my wrist so I couldn’t get away. I continued begging him to let me go. Finally, his friend told him to stop giving me a hard time, and he let go, but only when he was satisfied with the look of fear in my eyes. If his friend hadn’t spoken up, there’s no telling what he would have done.

Louise’s story:

I was walking down the road towards the nightlink, and a man was urinating in on the path under a street lamp. I walked past and my face must have been disgusted and he turned around, shook his penis at me and said “Keep walking, I’m gonna rape you.” I stood in the door of Pearse St station until the night link came.

Hollaback Dublin will hold a launch event at Solas Bar, 31 Wexford Street, on 28 November, at which all are welcome.

Read: Dublin Rape Crisis Centre took almost 12,000 calls last year>

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