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Meet Rana

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am 21 years old and I have been living in the Bay Area, California for 4 years. I was born and raised in Turkey. I am majoring in Sociology at University of California Santa Barbara, and planning to minor in Feminist Studies.

When did you start your account?

I have started a couple of days ago, June 16, 2019.

Why were you inspired to start an account?

I saw the @catcallsofNYC account on instagram and I thought that it’s a great idea to raise awareness on such an important topic. I also needed to create a project for my Women Studies class and I thought that it might be great way to both do my project and help this movement move forward.

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

Some people usually avoid problems that women are facing everyday, and they are behaving like sexual assault and street harassment never happens. I believe that chalking back is a great way to show people that it is real. It happens everyday. Many people deal with it and it actually affects their mental wellbeing as well as their self-esteem. Writing down the phrases that we hear everyday on streets and sidewalks will show people that it really happens. And writing the exact same sentences would show people how disgusting and disturbing are the things that we hear.

Why do you think ending street harassment is important?

Every woman that I have met had an experience with street harassment at least a couple of times in their lives. Unfortunately sexual assault and street harassment happens in the big cities such NYC, SF, and LA, more than it happens in the small cities. I believe that experiencing street harassment affects women’s mental wellbeing and their self-esteem. We are scared of going out at night. We are scared of wearing clothes that we want. Because of street harassment, we are scared of living our live and being our own authentic self. Every person deserves to behave, wear, and act in the way they want, and to go to places they want no matter what time is it. It is unjust to take this right from women, so I believe that in order to give women freedom, ending street harassment is a huge and an important step.

What’s your favorite thing about your city?

Most people are nice and respectful to each other.

What do you hope is the outcome of your account?

I hope more people will gain the knowledge that street harassment is real and happens every day. I hope it will show women that there are ways to fight back with street harassment, and will give them the courage to fight. I feel like women feel more confident after they share their stories, so it is a great platform to give women a voice. Also, I hope women will learn how to behave and what to do in those situations so that they feel safer.

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

Before coming to the US, I have experienced street harassment a lot of times because it is a widespread thing in Turkey. But, when I moved to the US, I remember a man harassing me in the bus station but I didn’t understand what he is exactly saying at that time. My English was terrible, but still, I sensed that it was harassment. I still remember the look on his eyes, and it disgusts me. What made it very disturbing is that since I didn’t know how to speak English, I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do. I felt vulnerable.

What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?

I am feeling so positive about this campaign, and I believe that we are doing something beautiful. Especially after seeing great reactions to your account, catcallsofNYC, I felt supported and it encouraged me to create an account. I believe we will be successful in raising awareness of street harassment and help more people with this campaign.

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