Rosheni’s Story

Roheni_poster780My name is Rosheni Takechandra. I am a woman, a sister, a friend, an auntie, a colleague and the programme director for the WITNESS Project.

I am NOT an object to men! I am not their “baby,” their “hey sexy,” their “I want to suck up your lips,” their “thick thing,” their “give me that ass.” NO, I am NOT any of that!

That Street Harassment constitutes those unwanted and vile behaviours that starts with thoughts and desires and then manifests into cat calls, whistling, name calling and leading to stalking, following women around, verbal abuse, cursing and threats and even further expressions of sexual abuse like rubbing the male private part against another person, rape etc. – makes it a concern for a society that strives to bring about equality of men and women and peace.

I have been harassed many times by men and boys. Some of whom could be my brother and others old enough to be my father or grandfather.

Such insolent behaviour which is believed by many to be “desired” or “acceptable” by women and girls- reflects the degradation of morals, values, ethics and strength of a powerful population . 

Here’s one of my personal experiences:

On the night of April 13th 2015, I was on my way home from the University.

This man who was leaning against the pavement and drinking a beer, called out to me. I was not sure what he said initially but then he shouted:

” come give me a minute nah.”

This is a total stranger, so I clearly said no as I continued to my bus park.

He started to follow me… When I realised this I started to walk faster. He also accelerated. I refused to listen to the words spilling out of his mouth…At this point I was drenched in fear. I turned to him and asked him to leave me alone. But he insisted on trying to have a conversation with me, invading my immediate personal space.

Drowning in fear, frustration and discomfort, I turned and ran back where I came from. There were two men talking. One selling a DVD to the other. I interrupted the sale.

” Excuse me sir. Can you kindly ask this man to stop following me and to leave me alone?”

“I asked him to leave me alone but he’s still following me.”

The kind man observed my vulnerability then turned to the harasser:

“Ey left this girl alone. Why you following she around? She asked you to left she alone. Is wah happen to you? Leave this girl alone!”

At that moment the harasser turned to me, gave me a long stare then remarked:

” she coulda seh dah…”

I was upset and reminded him that I told him to leave me alone…

I thanked the kind man and walked away as fast as I could. Perhaps I ran…

With heart throbbing and tears in my eyes I reflected on how unsafe it is to walk on the street if you are a Woman…

No one said anything to that harasser until I ran for help. Did people pass by and notice his behaviour? Yes! Did they intervene? No!

I could not help but to think that because I am a woman my words and decisions are not taken seriously by those harassers… it’s all about their agenda and how they go about executing it. The woman does not exist. She is just the object at his disposal- at least that is how it appears.

Because I am a woman, I must be subjected to that harasser? Really?

I am not unique to such vile behaviours. Other women and girls experience this every day!

That the harasser did not listen to me, but he listened to the man who intervened on my behalf, made me realise the significant role of decent men in standing up to those harassers!

Men can definitely play a role in ensuring that women are treated fairly and with respect. That harasser will go on to harass other women. But if another man stands up to him and then yet another man objects to his behaviour, he will be forced to act differently- If not by will, then by the pressure around him to do differently; to control his words and actions, and to respect others especially women and girls.

I strongly believe that women working together can also teach those men what is and what is not acceptable. We can put up our boundaries and make it known. Even when it is tough and scary, we must still hold on to our standards and values.

It is not an easy one but when men and women start working together, we can and will surely have a safer society. One where the harassers do not have any power! They will be forced to change because men and women alike will no longer accept and condone such lowly behaviour!

Do you have a story to tell? Submit Your Story Here.


Louisa’s Story

Louisa_ManceyLouisa Mancey
When I heard about the campaign I was happy for the opportunity to express my strong dissatisfaction with not only the act of harassment that has become common place, but also for persons attitude toward it. The most memorable experience for me with harassment is on one occasion walking downtown with my sister. A man made a rude comment about the appearance of my crotch and what he would like to do to me. This was not altogether uncommon. We promptly let him know that this was very disgusting comment and not acceptable. What was very surprising though, was that another passer-by, a man, promptly stepped in to defend him and his behavior. This was a shock to me, that persons really don’t get it! It’s not cool! They actually think they are doing us a favor by letting us know that we are desirable. I think it’s time to let them know that we don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry on the road watching us up and down lusting… Every man that does that immediately loses my respect.

Do you have a story to tell? Submit Your Story Here.

Venus’s Story

Venus_PersaudVenus Persaud
Countless times I’ve walked down the streets of my home town, of the capital and other parts of Guyana and felt unsafe. Why do I feel unsafe, this is my home. Street harassment is a revolting act that has become the norm for an alarming percentage of men of our society. I always think to myself, do these guys actually think that this is what it means to charm a woman, to shout cat calls and insulting comments when I don’t respond to them, what was wrong with their upbringing to make them feel like this is okay? IT IS NOT OKAY. We are not your prey, we are not objects, we are disgusted by this behavior and we won’t tolerate it. It has to stop, NO TOLERANCE, WE DO NOT LIKE IT, IT IS NOT OKAY.

Do you have a story to tell? Submit Your Story Here.

Akilah’s Story

Akilah_ManceyAkilah Mancey
My name is Akilah. In my 26 years of life my experience with street harassment has been a troubling one. I’ve seen others subjected to this and I have been a recipient of this unwanted sexual harassment. I will not repeat all the vile and offensive things spat at me by various men but I would like to express my utter disgust and revulsion. It makes me sick and angry that men feel somehow they have the right and permission to just say what they please to women as we go about our days trying to make the best of life just like everyone else. Not only do we have other inequalities to face but we also have to be told abhorrent sexual things as we too struggle with life. It’s not fair. I have taken to wearing head phones or just not walking about as I would like to deal in order to avoid street harassment. There are no words I can use to express just how much I hate street harassment. It is NOT attractive and NOT wanted. STOP street harassment. It is just not OK.

Do you have a story to tell? Submit Your Story Here.

Verney’s Story

Verney_HenryVerney Henry

Have you ever been so angry that you felt like hurting someone – in the worst way possible? This is how I feel about street harassment when random people tell you unwanted things then insult you when you do not respond.

This act is sickening and disgusting! How can some men/boys be so inconsiderate and heartless? They can change a person’s mood in so many ways. Here are a  few experience that I’ve had: Imagine that you and your mom have just had a conflict and you come out on the road to get some fresh air. The first thing you hear is, “Hey sexy, you looking thick!

I recall another time where I was hanging out with some friends and a group of men looked at me and said. “I’m watching you, you are shaping up just fine.”  These comments not only upset me but scare me. As a young lady, I do not want to walk to go anywhere. I am scared. Will these acts of street harassment ever stop? Will ever feel safe walking from my home to a nearby shop?

Do you have a story to tell? Submit Your Story Here.

Anisa’s Story

Anisa_ManceyAnisa Mancey
Sometimes I would like to walk down the street and get my errands done without some random stranger calling out to me just to harass me. It doesn’t make me feel nice and it often just annoys me. It doesn’t make me want to get to know these guys at all if that’s how they call out to women. It doesn’t make them look cool or interesting; it really makes me feel like I need to get far away.

Do you have a story to tell? Submit Your Story Here.

Come Alive Network Screening of Rebecca’s Story

CANI screening

CANI Screening

‎A beautiful afternoon well spent with the members of Come Alive Network, where the screening of our award wining short film was done. The members were welcoming and open to new ideas of spreading our message and building awareness in using the arts. As noted, the film has a kit of questions it comes with, thus this is where the good part began. After the screening, we indulged in discussions relating to what it meant being a Witness; for one of the member stated:

‘We are all witnesses to something but it’s inspiring to see how a child can play a part in helping someone else whom is suffering’ – CANI Member

Further, I asked them about some of the messages that the film addressed and it was great that all the messages that we the creators of the film intended for the audience to get, was clearly understood. For a member stated:

‘One major thing I enjoyed about this film is that it speaks about real issues that are facing everybody everyday and you don’t have to be an adult to understand these issues, the film portrayed it well’ – CANI Member

Another member stated:’

It was a genuine film, genuine in that it was totally a Guyanese film‎, it wasn’t cliché but it was well made and I enjoyed it’- CANI Member

All in all, sharing out film and spreading our ideals with the members of Come Alive Network was ‎a memorable event for I know that networks were build and it enforced the plight of reducing this plague of Domestic and Child Directed Violence that our society has been faced with.

WITNESS Project Presents at Ridgefield CT Library, Oct 5th

WITNESS Project Sunday October 5, 2014 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM

WITNESS Project International will present a talk/screening focusing on our youth’s massive, public space photography project in partnership with French Urban Artist JR’s Inside Out Global Arts Project. Our project generated social awareness and change through the arts, and was followed by other creative public works that used writing, storytelling, and an award winning short film by the WITNESS youth.

Anyone near Ridgefield Conn U.S. tomorrow, Oct 5th, stop by the Ridgefield Library @ 2:00pm to hear about our collaboration with JR/Inside Out  – and see our award winning short film ‘Rebecca’s Story’ – here’s a link to the trailer.
For more information & directions to the Library go HERE.

Final Day of our Summer Project

final dayToday was my final day with the WITNESS Project youth, and we switched gears from stenciling walls to talking about our next poster project. Over the past few months, our group of young artists have been working on a series of public service announcements to address the problem of street harassment. They have written and filmed the PSA’s and are now getting ready to edit them. We wanted to coordinate the launching of these announcements with another poster campaign that would address the same issue. So today we worked on that project.

We spent the morning talking about how marketing can effect society both for good and for bad. We saw some examples of ad campaigns that subtly reinforced the notion that street harassment was somehow acceptable behavior. Looking at these ads got the group thinking about how powerful advertising really is and how they can use the same techniques to get their message across.

We divided into groups and answered questions about who we should direct our message to, what we want them to think, how we want them to feel, and how we want them to behave. We also talked about positive vs negative messaging.

The groups came up with some great ideas for the poster campaign and then presented or pitched their idea to the rest of the group. All the ideas were very good, so I know as they continue to refine their ideas in the next few months, I am confident that they will put together an effective campaign. It should be a great project and I am eager to see what they come up with.

We ended our time with ice-cream and good-bye hugs. It’s been a great week and I look forward to working together on our next project.