#BermudaToo: intensifying the fight against sexual harassment
In light of the recent #MeToo movement, I would like to get the discussion started here in Bermuda about sexual harassment, particularly of young girls.
I believe this is a serious problem around the world and here on the island, and this discussion will help lead to change. To those that are not aware of the #MeToo movement, it is a movement against the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault. A recent survey of Bermuda residents has shed light on the shocking statistic that one in three people have been sexually abused before the age of 18.
While sexual harassment is different from sexual abuse, I believe that when sexual harassment is not acknowledged and stopped, it can lead to sexual abuse.
I wish I could share all the stories of my friends and I being beeped at, or whistled at, or catcalled, and I wish I could tell you some of the derogatory phrases that have been used towards my peers and I. But with limited words I just want to make one thing clear: it is not a compliment, it is harassment. It is offensive and terrifying.
Being sexualised at such a young age is mentally scarring, and I am so tired of being told that “it’s a cultural thing in Bermuda”. Sexual harassment should not be part of a culture.
Additionally, there have been many cases of older men following young girls on their bikes, which I have heard about through social media, my peers, and have personally encountered myself. I cannot begin to explain how frightening this is. In many cases, the girls have been in their school uniforms and all were on their 50cc bikes, so their age is obvious to the men following them. This is harassment.
A study done in 2009 by Debbie Chiodo of 1,734 students showed that sexual harassment leads to a higher risk of self-harm, thoughts about suicide, and substance abuse. Sexual harassment has been proven to lead to mental health problems, which is even more of a reason that it needs to stop.