On my way to the Montreal airport on a city bus, I found this:
For those who do not speak French, this sign informs about a service for women traveling alone at night, namely a stopover between stops. You inform the driver and he makes an extra stop so you can return home safely. It has been offered since 2004. In Spain, we are also a little behind, but they are also starting to offer it. Cities like San Sebastian, Bilbao, Valencia, Alicante make these extra stops, they call it pink stops or purple stops.
On my social media when I shared the photo, there were mixed feelings about this service, from those who are happy with it to those who say that its existence is a bit offensive, why should we change our behavior to be safe? . Most of the girls who wrote to me did not know about the service (some residents of the mentioned cities). And even this is what attracted my attention, they do not want to use it, because they do not want to bother the driver with their request or those that, having asked to stop, the driver simply ignored them.
Coming back alone at night is not a new modern drama, keys in hand in case of attack, walking down lit streets, constantly looking back, changing pavement if someone is coming from behind, walking with a cell phone so they think you can notify someone anyway… we have a lot of strategies in case something happens.
But what if it happens?
“A man followed me down the street, I got scared and went quickly. Seeing several policemen nearby, I approached them. They gave me a dirty look and asked what I wanted. I told them that someone was following me, they looked at me badly and did nothing.
“The other day I got into a taxi and burst into tears, because a man was chasing me, the taxi driver asked where I was going and if we were waiting for my “friend”. I told him to start now that this man is bothering me. The taxi driver calmly drove off and did not say another word to me, and I was suffocating. Zero empathy.
“When I was 18, a man touched my chest in the middle of the street, I started screaming like crazy, and no one did anything. It was three or four in the afternoon.
“On my 18th birthday, my ex-boyfriend and I quarreled a lot, he pushed me and did not let go. I ran to the taxi and told him please give me a ride, the taxi driver said no and left.
“A man was chasing me down the street, I was so scared that even though my house was close, I went to the nearest bar and cried. The waiters gave me dirty looks until the person who followed me started knocking on the door.”
These are all the reviews that made it to my Instagram. I have many more of them, and the worst thing is that we are being poisoned from childhood or adolescence. Many of them happened when you were between 12 and 14 years old.
Why, if we clearly need help, are we denied it?
Moreover, prevention seems to be a nuisance here, if nothing has happened, if no one has attacked or raped you (yet), shut up so we don’t worry about our need to be safe. I have spoken to Desiree Bela who, in a very perverse way, believes that those responsible for our security are often people who are neither trained nor sensitive to our needs.
I don’t know how many times they told me “shut up or it will get worse” you should shut up when they follow you on the street masturbating you should shut up when they call you a whore when you don’t want to have anything to do with it man, you must shut up when his genitals are exposed in front of you, you must shut up, because otherwise it will be worse. And I, who did not remain silent many times, confirm that it is worse.
They taught us to run away, they taught us to keep our heads down, they taught us that if something happens, we are alone, and we have learned everything. We have learned to feel helpless.
The irony of all this is that we have also learned to feel shame and guilt for feeling vulnerable, for not being able to stand up for ourselves.
As a woman who had to return alone in the wee hours when eight euros in a taxi was a luxury, I don’t want to be active at night. I don’t know if the motto “alone and drunk, I want to go home” reflects me, I think it’s not worth going so far; just one, I want to go home.
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