No Place For Girls 0 475

I hang out with my cousin and my sister the other day.

We talked about how scary it is to walk home alone at night.

I spoke to some new friends in class the other day.

We talked about how scary it is to walk home alone at night.

I went out the other day.

Before I left, my dad told me, “please, do not walk back home alone at night.”

Sit down with a couple of female friends and you will see how fast you get them talking if you bring out this issue. It doesn’t matter where we live, how old we are, what we do with our lives… The streets at night have been forever a perfect topic for bonding. All of us are scared. All.

It frightens me how normal it is for us to be scared of walking home alone.

It frightens me how normal it is to have to wait for our friends even if we wish to go home because leaving would mean walking home alone.

It frightens me how normal it is to send someone a picture of the license plate of the taxi that is gonna take us home just in case we never make it.

How have we come to accept that this is normal really is hard to imagine. If I try to reflect on how I became so scared of the streets at night I just see that I always was. “Nights are dangerous for girls“, “Let me walk you home“, “Tell your friends to come with you“, “I’ll pick you up just to make sure you’re okay“… I have always heard this. I have always been told this.

I doubt any man can begin to understand this concept. The whole taking the longer path just because it has better lighting, speeding up as soon as you’re by yourself, seeing a man on the sidewalk and crossing the street, running if you hear steps close to you, holding your keys around your fist, faking a call or walking with your phone in your hand with 911 dialed.

I don’t live in a dangerous neighbourhood. I don’t live in a dangerous country.

Yet, this is my reality. This is our reality.

The streets at night are no place for girls. 

How have they managed to make such statement true?

The streets at night are no place for 50% of the human population.

Why?

Rape.

Kidnapping.

Murder.

Those three words resound in my head every time I have to walk home at night. Even if I’m 100 meters away from the doorbell, I consider the fastest way to escape, where to run in order to get help, how to fight back.

Every shadow is scary. Every man is a suspect. Every noise is a threat.

I could share with you at least 20 different stories of girls who were almost raped or almost kidnapped. May I say I’m relieved I don’t have any friend who was actually raped or kidnapped for walking home alone. But how can I be relieved? Shouldn’t this be what’s normal?

I could share at least 20 different stories of myself being followed, screamed at, made sexual proposals… Just on those very few nights where I had no choice but to walk home by myself.

I refuse to keep normalizing the fact that I the streets are not mine. That men have the power to leave me at home if I know no one is gonna be able to come back with me. That society has accepted they must educate girls to be terrified rather than educating boys not to terrify.

This revolution needs to start now. This issue needs to be spoken about at every school, every group of friends, every government of every country.

The streets, at night, must become the place for young girls. For me. For you. For us.

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Clara Manrique is an 19-year-old girl who loves reading, writing and talking. She is studying to become an Elementary School Teacher as she believes it's only through education that we can change the world.

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