Women uncomfortable with aggressive catcalling

FOLLOWING a recent surge in reports of violence against women, many women are now fearful when men call out to them while walking on the road.

A few told the Jamaica Observer that the aggressive catcalling by men was very degrading to women and they even feared for their lives.

“Bwoii mumma, me wudda breed you right now. Mumma you p***y look tight man! Heavy sex! Champion! Mumma you breast dem nice doe, me naaah lie! ‘Trong baddy! Sexy! Fi a fat girl you nice doe,” said 27-year-old Monique Murray, in detailing some of the things that men say to her.

She further explained that she always tries to appear as respectful as possible, even when the comments made are highly sexual and rude.

Murray further stated that, “I feel very embarrassed, especially by what they tend to say and how they say it. I feel as if they are stripping me down with their words. They make me feel as if all women are just to be taken to bed and that’s that. I believe if the tables should turn and women catcall it would be something else. They would feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.”

Expressing her concern for her safety, Murray said, “I normally keep my head straight and continue walking or wind up my window and drive and ensure my doors are locked. I don’t normally answer because I am afraid they [will] hit me or become more verbally abusive towards me.”

Makadia Russell, 36, said she has had similar experiences as Murray with men’s catcalls, and she always tries to appear as respectful as possible even when the comments made are highly sexual and rude. “If a man says, ‘Hi baby, you look beautiful,’ I say thank you, politely. When dem say things like, ‘fat front gyal’, mi nuh answer to that [because] that makes me feel uncomfortable. Me, as a woman, I try to cover myself properly, so if a man a guh go out a dem way an’ a say fat front or whatever, it makes me uncomfortable,” said Russell.

Russell also stated that when men call out to her in an aggressive manner she tries to not make eye contact, and “I’m going to check my surroundings to make sure I’m not alone,” because she doesn’t want them to attack her if they think she is being disrespectful.

Along with the women, local dancehall artiste, Dwight Gutzmair, whose stage name is Gutz, also told the Observer that catcalling should be considered as sexual assault because it puts women in an uncomfortable position.

The father of a four-year-old girl said, “[Some] men don’t know how to handle rejection, so the minute a woman rejects after calling out to them on the road then they feel somehow. that they need to defend their manhood And I think, for the most part, that’s what’s leading to a lot of these things [murders and attack on women] … the over aggression.”

All three of these individuals believe that this is sexual harassment and more laws need to be put in place to ensure that the women can walk freely on the road without being harassed.

Currently, there is no provision in the Sexual Harassment Act, 2019 that prevents a man from calling out to a women that he sees as a potential mate.

In addition, Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay told the Observer that, unless the man physically assaults or threatens the woman, she cannot make a report in the hopes of the man being charged by the police.

“What the person can do is to ignore them. So if they’re just calling and calling from a distance, just ignore them. The female might be uncomfortable, but it has not reached the thresholds for them to be charged for any offence,” Lindsay said.

She further stated that, “If it is a situation where it becomes confrontational or they touch them or assault them, now that’s different, because if they touch them they can be charged. If they threaten them they can [also] go to the police and report a threat and they [the man] can be warned.”

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