11 tips for dealing with sexual assault and harassment
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Being a girl can be beautiful- we get to enjoy make-up and dresses with no stigma attached to it. We get to live longer, enjoy our boyfriend's clothes and in most cases, we’re not the ones that have to think of stupid pick-up lines. But there’s the dark side of the moon as well. Women and girls get to experience a significantly higher percentage of sexual harassment and assault. In fact, 82% of all juvenile victims are female, while 90% of adult rape victims are female. We have all been reminded of this recently with the Hollywood sex scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein and others, as well as the unfolding sexual harassment scandal surrounding the Houses of Parliament. Be it day or night, public transport, work or club, women are vulnerable. This is well known, and yet it is still shocking to hear how long some people can get away with such outrageous behaviour. As such we wanted to come up with some advice to help any readers who ever experience sexual assault or harassment. Unfortunately, there’s no 'list of rules' to follow to avoid sexual harassment and assault. But we have put together some advice on how to deal with such a situation if it occurs. 1. Be attentive It might seem a bit obvious as many of us girls already have a set course of actions when leaving home but: avoid dark streets and walk far from corners. Stay as far away as possible from bushes and other objects that can prevent clear view. Do not go through parks and others nature spaces later at night unless there’s no other way around. Don't wear headphones! Listen to the sounds around you, if you see someone walking towards you, make a note of their features as they come closer. 2. Take precautions Different girls use different methods. If you really have to walk home alone, bring a pepper spray with you. Alternatively, hold a key between your fingers or pretend to have a conversation on your phone. Don't stare down at your phone! The light will blind you, as well as distracting you from paying attention to your surroundings. Put the phone next to your ear and act out a conversation or call a friend and make them have a chat with you. 3. Don’t talk to strangers Ok, I know this has been THE RULE since kindergarten but it is equally important as an adult especially later at night-do not stop to talk to strangers. Not even if they’re only asking for directions or time. It might seem rude but I’ve talked to my male friends and a lot of them agree that they wouldn’t stop a girl on the street as they realise she might feel intimidated. 4. Know the definition of sexual harassment and assault Sometimes, we are not sure where the borders are. Was he just being friendly while he danced with you in the club or was his hand around your waist too much? Any unwanted sexual behaviour is sexual harassment! It can begin with words, him pressuring you, manipulating you or even making jokes that are inappropriate. When words turn into actions, it is sexual assault. Any unwanted sexual touching is assault. Rape is a sexual assault as well. So, if you did not specifically agree to take part in any act of a sexual nature it is sexual harassment or assault. You have the right to raise your voice and seek help. 5. Remember key phone numbers Know your country’s emergency number as well as local police numbers. Research what organisations help victims in your community. Even if not for yourself, it might be helpful for a friend.
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