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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Campaign Officially Launched!

Amnesty International Mauritius Section is launching “Respekte Nu,” a four-month sensitization campaign against street harassment, a human rights violation that many girls and women experience on a regular basis.

Street harassment is sexual harassment that occurs in public spaces and is a form of violence against women. Research recently conducted by Alyssa Fine on behalf of Soroptimist International Ipsae Mauritius revealed that harassment targets may feel afraid, ashamed, annoyed, uncomfortable, guilty and frustrated. Efforts made by women and girls to avoid experiencing street harassment lead to severe restrictions on their opportunities, mobility, productivity and independence.

The campaign will use several mediums, including traditional above-the-line media, music, art, theater and face-to-face training sessions, to educate the public about the nature and harm of street harassment. It will also convey the message that women always have the right to feel safe and respected in public, regardless of what they are wearing and when and where they go out.
Primary campaign events include a forum for women and girls in September, a concert with musicians and comedians in October, and art exhibits and Take Back the Night marches and activities in November. These will be supplemented by two media campaigns and awareness-raising on a grassroots level.

This campaign emerges from the results of Alyssa’s study, in which she found that girls and women of all ages experience street harassment in a number of forms, including: whistling, hissing, sexual or explicit comments, staring, following and even assault.

“Whether it disrupts their work, their school, or their leisure activities, or influences their choice of clothing or facial expressions,” writes Alyssa in her report on the study, “street harassment clearly makes women unequal to men in Mauritius and limits women’s ability to enjoy all their human rights.”

Amnesty International’s campaign will be the first step in addressing this source of inequality. By raising public awareness of street harassment, it will pave the way for lasting changes in the way women and girls are treated while in public.

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