Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My Name is Mariana, I’m 16 years old, I live in Bogota, Colombia and I’m starting ing junior year next month. I Run the account @esonoespiropo_bogota with my two best friends Laura and Sofia. I love art and design, biology and traveling. I also love to read and to investigate about interesting topics. I am very passionate about women’s and animal’s rights and have two Siberian Huskies that I love with all my heart
When did you start your account?
We started the account about two months ago, on May 29th 2019.
Why were you inspired to start an account?
I had no idea about the campaign until my friend Laura showed me the @catcallsofnyc Instagram page and what Sophie and her team were doing in her city. It seemed like a really impactful but at the same time non-invasive way of criticizing catcalling and street harassment in general and I immediately agreed to be part of the initiative. Given that catcalling is considered absolutely normal and happens daily here in Bogota, we decided it was a great idea to start an account for people to be heard and to inspire a change in society, so that catcalling is not a regular thing anymore.
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness?
I think the more we publicly show and condemn street harassment, we have a better chance of ending with it. Every time someone walks by one of our chalk signs and stops to read it, we are one small step closer to ending this, by raising awareness and starting an open conversation about what women have to suffer on a daily basis, and often times goes unnoticed. It is also a way to educate people by letting them know catcalling does not make women feel either good or validated but rather insecure and harassed. When you read on the streets the kind of catcalls women get on a daily basis and think about whether you would want that for yourself, that’s when a real change of mindset and growth as a society can start.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
Women should not be going out the streets with a constant fear of others making unwanted comments or inappropriate interactions with them. They shouldn’t worry about what they’re wearing or avoid certain routes to elude places they know they will be harassed at. They shouldn’t have to walk with their keys on their fist when it’s dark outside, or have the need to be walked by somebody else out of the paralyzing fear that someone might try to take advantage of them. Everyone has the right to walk wherever they want to, whenever they want to and wearing whatever they want to without being molested or catcalled. Streets should be a safe environment for everybody.
What’s your favorite thing about your city?
My favorite thing about Bogota I think is the fact that there’s a lot of things to do in the city, there’s zones for every activity you want to do. You want to go clubbing, you can; you want to visit museums and learn about history, you can do that too. It’s has a very broad spectrum of activities to do, so you never get bored.
How can your city better address street harassment?
Something Bogota lacks of that is really important to have when you live in a society, is civic culture. As a group of people who share a common space, we need to be mindful of others and respect all the members of our community. By growing a sense of civic culture and educating people on how their comments and actions affect others, we might create a more empathetic and knowledgeable society that will respect everybody regardless of their nature, which will help reduce street harassment.
What do you hope is the outcome of your account?
Hopefully in the future more people get to know and support the movement, so that this issue is addressed by everybody and we can find a solution for it. We want everyone to know about this and how it affects many of us; we want them to know catcalling and street harassment are a real thing women have to experience regularly and that it is not okay. Hopefully we can raise awareness and educate others on what’s really happening around them.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
I’m lucky enough to have experienced very “normal” or “less intense” catcalls, compared to many of the submissions we get. A very common one is getting whistled at or being called “my love” or “mamacita”. Although these are very insignificant compared to others, they can still make you feel belittled and degraded. Whistling for example, always makes me feel as if I was somebody’s property, like a dog or pet.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
It is absolutely amazing being part of a cause like this. Knowing that you are not the only one fighting for the cause really makes you feel part of a bigger and more empowered movement. Being able to make a difference and speak up for something I am really passionate about makes me really grateful and happy.