Why Some Trinbagonian Women Accept Street Harassment as Compliments

There are some women and girls in Trinidad and Tobago would not accept being harassed on the streets, while other women and young girls may accept it street harassment. At one time, after I gave a presentation on street harassment, a Spanish teacher told me to ignore what the harassers tell me. It may sound like easy advice; to ignore the vulgar comments, to ignore the leering, to ignore the cat-calling (sooting), and to ignore the car honking. Another teacher said a man said “I would be going to school every day, if you were my teacher” said a man who she doesn’t know. The thing has she enjoyed that comment. Why? That statement is a compliment, but deep down,
An estimated one in three women in the region has suffered domestic abuse, according to a report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. While femicide has garnered more attention in other parts of the region, such as Argentina and Mexico, in the Caribbean, 30 to 50 percent of murders are related to domestic violence, reports the University of the West Indies’ Institute of Gender Studies. And the problem may be even worse than these statistics show, given that stigma and impunity often lead to underreporting. And the problem may be even worse than these statistics show, given that stigma and impunity often lead to underreporting.
So how did all the street harassment culture come about? Because of socialisation. Through this socialisation of a learned culture of street harassment better known as sooting in Trinidad and Tobago. Older men would harass women and other members of society for various reasons based on the way their sex, the way they dress, complexion of their skin, ethnic group.
The important and disturbing aspect of street harassment is that the person being harassed tend to enjoy the compliments from strangers or the leering from men, the sooting, and the groping. Why? Trinidad and Tobago live in a culture that normalises street harassment. The important factor lacking here is the lack of critical thinking for both young girls, boys, and women and men.

    



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