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Meet Elena

Why do you think chalking back is a good method to raise awareness?

To me the power of “Chalking back” lies in its visibility. Everybody can see it - victims, perpetrators as well as bystanders. While It creates collective power and solidarity among victims/survivors by breaking the public silence on sexual harassment, it’s also a clear sign to offenders, who are in most cases men, that their actions are not unseen and being addressed. Furthermore we can demonstrate by chalking back that sexual harassment takes place in the midst of our society on a daily base in everyday situations and that therefore the issue lies not with individual women behaving or dressing “inappropriately ” but has a systemic character rooted in the bigger picture of a patriarchal society, that is based on a toxic, binary female/male construct, resulting in male violence.

Why do you think ending street harassment is important?

Street harassment – as only one of the many forms of patriarchal violence – makes women feel unsafe and is a constant reminder to us that we are living in a society, in which men still feel entitled to harass us in all thinkable scenarios and a society in which oftentimes remaining silent still seems to be an

easier (and safer) choice than to actually hold corresponding people accountable.

Whats your favorite thing about your city?

Definitely my friends, because on the long run without them even the most beautiful city would make me feel bore and lonely.

What is the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?

One evening I was sitting in the tram, on my way home. I sat down and suddenly a man sat down in front of me staring at me intimidatingly. I gave him an angry look and changed my seat. He followed me whereupon I asked him, what the heck he wanted from me. He just kept staring – while sitting

right across from me!! – and started making crazy grimaces, which was when I realized that he was also drunk (which just made things worse, because we all know what drunk men are capable of) and told him to leave me alone. He showed me the middle finger, I showed it back and he left for a few

seconds. Then he kept standing a few meters away from me, talking to his friend, but still starring strangely at me and mouthing some things at me. Even though it wasn’t that late, and the tram was still full of people, inside myself I was totally freaking out, already imagining what would happen if

they would follow me home – because in case, I didn’t feel like anybody around me would have intervened to support me. Luckily, they left the tram one stop before mine.

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