Around the World: Cat-Call Edition

“Hey baby, you want marriage with me?” Many women have heard this, or worse, while traveling abroad or walking through their own neighborhoods. And while these stories often make for interesting, and sometimes even funny conversations after the fact, verbal sexual harassment is not a joke. Today we are taking a look at some of the worst cities for “cat-calling” and how, in some of these places, women are fighting back.

Rabat, Morocco
Rabat, the capital of Morocco, is a unique blend of desert, North African, mediterranean, and Arab culture. And while, generally speaking, the people are kind and interested in travellers, I have never experience more cat-calling in my life. While most men simply call out the name of celebrities they wish you looked like, “Beyonce!!” and “Hello, Jennifer Lopez” (For the record, I’m a short, freckled, pasty, white girl), some Moroccan men have more sinister, hands-on motives. “Boys will be boys” is often the excuse, but some female groups are not accepting that as an answer. Several female groups have launched Facebook campaigns and organized protests against sexual harassment in Morocco but with rigid and sometimes archaic laws, it is definitely an uphill battle.

Rome, Italy
Cat-calling is often considered a staple of Italian culture. Although cat-calling can be invasive and uncomfortable, in some cases it is considered a playful exchange and an open form of appreciation. But while some of the words are flattering, or even poetic, some Italian men take it too far. Being called beautiful is one things, getting your butt groped is another.

New York City, United States
New York City is often considered one of the worst cities in the United States for cat-calling. We have a stereotypical image of a cab driver or construction worker making rude comments or noises but cat-calling spans age and economic status. In fact, cat-calling has become such a widespread problem, that NYC city council is considering establishing “no cat-call” zones around the city, making verbal sexual harassment illegal. Women are also putting their feet down in the Big Apple. A new app called “Hollaback!” allows women to take pictures of assailants and post warnings for other ladies around the city.

By Caroline Kellough