Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hey there! My name is Shaili, 19 years old and I’m from Siliguri, India. I’m currently doing my Honours in Economics. I love reading, writing and traveling.
When did you start your account? I started my account on 25th April, 2019 (Happiest moment!!)
Why were you inspired to start an account? I remember that I was following @catcallsofnyc for a long time along with other insta pages that supported feminism and equality. My interest kept growing and after witnessing and experiencing cat calls and street harassments almost everyday, I decided to create @catcallsofslg with 3 of my other friends who would help me. I knew that something needed to be done instead of just sitting behind and watching the show.
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness? Chalking back at the spot where street harassments and cat calls took place is definitely a good method of raising awareness. When we chalk back, we use colourful chalks which symbolises innocence and happiness. So when people walk on the street, their eyes catch attention of the colourful-chalked-words we write but instead of reading some good or happy news, they read about the harassment that took place right where they’re standing and reading it. It hits them. It surely raises awareness way better than the articles and posts that are uploaded or printed which usually gets ignored by people. Moreover, chalking back means that it’s not over. It’s a reminder for the harasser that whatever he/she did wasn’t appropriate or something normal that he/she can easily get over with. It’s a reminder for everyone that street harassments are not just moments which should be forgotten but now it has resulted into a movement where people will raise their voice and stand against it.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important? Firstly, street harassment is not right. It’s simple. It needs to be stopped. Secondly, street harassments have become so common now that people are taking it as something that is too normal being unaware of the scars that it leaves behind on the victim. The victim often suffers from loss of self confidence, anxiety, depression, feels unsafe and so on. Therefore, ending street harassment is not only important but a must.
What’s your favorite thing about your city? The favourite thing about Siliguri is it’s weather. Here, the weather is always pleasant and beautiful. If you want to go somewhere and chill, it’s the perfect place.
How can your city better address street harassment? I can say that by implementing proper law, it can be stopped but in the long run. For now, I think it is awareness and realisation of how wrong street harassment is that can actually bring a change. People need to raise their voice when someone harasses them or when they witness one in front of them. Keeping their mouth shut and pretending as if nothing has happened won’t change anything. I think the most important thing is that the victims need to speak about it. They need to stop normalising it because it is not. Afterall, actions speak louder than words!
What do you hope is the outcome of your account? I hope that my account can be a platform through which the victims can raise their voice (even anonymously). I hope that my account spreads enough awareness so that the harassers think a hundred times before harassing someone. Being part of this movement itself is an achievement for me and I hope that not only my account, but all the accounts together reach our destination which is simply to end street harassments.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
I still remember every detail of that night. It was more of a sexual harassment which could even turn into a rape case. It is also one of the reason why I was so determined to create this account.
It was a saturday night and I went out with my boyfriend. It was the dusk time and we went near the woods for stargazing. We knew it was a safe place because the forest department was also situated there. So as we reached there, a guy came up out of nowhere and started abusing us, especially me. He even hit my boyfriend and robbed our phones and purse. Then he asked us to take him into the woods saying that he’s home is there and if we take him there then he’d return us things back. We denied at first and then he got more violent. We realised that he was high on someone. He even tried to hit me. When I kept on refusing to accompany him into the woods, he abused me like anything and then even dragged me and pushed me to the ground. I was scared to death so I agreed.
When we went quite deep into the woods, my boyfriend asked him where was he taking us and where is his home to which the guy replied that “This is the place. This is the place where I’ll fuck her.” As I heard those words, I felt as if my heartbeat stopped. It was all dark except the moonlight and we were in the middle of nowhere. For a moment, I felt as if it was my last day. After hearing that, we stopped and he started laughing. I didn’t know what to do so I started running away.
When I started running, the guy shouted and tried to catch me but my boyfriend held him. I didn’t stop and kept running until I couldn’t see them anywhere. I was still in the woods and was completely lost.
After sometime, I heard my boyfriend calling for me so I followed his voice and found him. He said that he had a fight with the guy and since the guy was high, he fainted.
It was the most horrible experience of my life. It traumatised me to such an extent that even today I feel unsafe when I go out at night. I still feel scared to sleep in the dark and my heart still races when I hear about any rape cases.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
I feel proud to be a part of this campaign and to actually do something and stand against what I feel is wrong.