It is almost impossible to find a woman who has not been subjected to some form of sexual harassment. Disparagement is familiar to many women due to the unwelcome attention of men, with whom they often have no affiliation. And it is sad that young girls are not exempt from the vile behaviours of those men who cannot seem to control their lust. Many times, I have witnessed men making sexual gestures, fondling their private parts in public or even exposing themselves to gain the attention of women and girls. In many cases, unsolicited physical contact or an attempt is made and the offenders expect that women would amicably accept such harassment.
To say that I am tired of this battle is an understatement. What I often feel is anger, frustration and, sometimes, fear. Fear because there have been instances when ignoring unwanted male attention resulted in a threat of violence. Mostly ignoring it is how I am able to control myself from retaliating in a way that may put me at the risk of being further verbally abused or even being physically harmed. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is not something that vanishes if ignored long enough. It is a systematic issue and many of the offenders are ignorant of the damage they cause, refuse to accept culpability, do not care that their behaviour is unacceptable or believe that their behaviour is normal.
As we have seen in recent times, especially in places like Hollywood, many powerful men who have offended have been exposed. Women are finding the courage to name offenders in an era where our voices can be a collective. Of course, there are those who are asking why there was silence for so long. There are also many questions as to the truth to some of the accusations. It is that shaming and doubt that often causes many women to remain silent and will deter many others from speaking about their experiences. It is encouraging that many are speaking up, which is a reality I hope will become a norm in Guyana. But I am not hopeful that the sexual harassment of women will end anytime soon…..