Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Farah and I run Catcalls of London. This has been an amazing journey for me that has expanded into starting the Chalk Back site with Sophie, youth mentorship, speaking in schools, working with venues around London to implement no-tolerance on harassment policies and it just keeps on growing and expanding.
I’m originally from Uganda and now live in London. I always have a creative idea buzzing around my head and put most of my energy into my consulting business and of course this, which is a great outlet. Cancer survivor, damn good dancer, party lover and someone that wants to see the good in life and enact positive change where possible.
When did you start your account?
I started my account December 2017.
Why were you inspired to start an account?
Seeing Catcalls of NYC just resonated so much with me. I thought the format was great and I loved the idea of being able raise awareness about how widespread harassment is in such a visible medium.
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness?
Chalking in the places where things happened is so powerful. The brightly coloured chalk washes away, so there is no permanent damage to public property, and the format means it’s impossible not to notice when walking by.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
We all have the right to feel safe in public spaces. To be able to go about our day to day lives without being made to feel uncomfortable or even worse, fearing for our safety. Small infringements on our personal wellbeing can all add up to an altered mental state and how we choose to present ourselves to the world. Everyone should have the right to be their authentic selves and feel comfortable and safe in that. Ending street harassment and making it socially unacceptable goes a long way to ensuring that.
What is your favourite thing about your city?
London is an incredible melting pot of people and cultures. It’s such an accessible city and there is always something to do.
How can your city better address street harassment?
This needs to be taken more seriously by government and police. I'd love to see a France style law that imposes on the spot fines. Womxn need to be able to feel safe in public spaces and I think legislation will help that. I recently launched a petition to the UK parliament and want to see specific legislation pertaining to street harassment. Please SIGN THE PETITION here!
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
Ultimately, I want widespread awareness and to see a decrease in reported incidents. I want womxn to walk down the street without any fear, to feel empowered to call it out and I want them to be supported when it does happen. I want people to step up when they see it happening. If this account and others like it can contribute to that, then we have helped create change and that’s an incredible thing.
What is the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
When I was 13 an adult man told I “walked sexy” as I was on my way to school. When I was 15, a teenager ran behind me and lifted up my skirt in the middle of the road. When I was 19, a man pulled out his penis and started playing with himself staring at me on a bus in the middle of the day. When I was 28, a man tried to put his hand down my pants when I was half asleep on public transport. In between all of those I can think of many more incidents, and have since forgotten a whole lot more. The relentless harassment that I have faced in every aspect of my life since I was in my early teens has at different times made me feel helpless, ashamed, angry, anxious and depressed. Both verbal and physical abuse have had a massive impact on how I’ve held myself, that’s why this campaign has been so important.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
We have created an incredible community worldwide, who support and celebrate one another. There is strength and power in shared experience and understanding. It’s both inspiring and motivating being a part of something that is so much bigger than any one of us.