*Content warning: this piece discusses sexual assault**
You sense someone is following you, even before you hear the footsteps.
You speed up, turning the corner on to a nameless, dimly-lit street. The man is getting closer and from the things he is saying, his intentions are clear. Surrounded by the boarded up doors and broken windows of deserted buildings, you wonder if there’s any point calling for help – there’s no one else around. No one will hear you.
Unfortunately, this kind of harassment occurs on a daily basis in every corner of the globe. Some of you reading this may have experienced something similar or at the very least, you’ve worried about finding yourself in a scenario like this.
Girls and women around the world fear for their safety when walking their city streets, but the threat is all the more real in Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city.
18 year old Faridah lives in the slums of Kampala and faces unknown dangers every night on her journey home from work.
"There is no light. I walk alone along abandoned car scrap yards and through dark, quiet alleys. There are abandoned houses that have been squatted by gangs and every time I pass them at night they make me incredibly scared."
"I have been assaulted several times and a year ago, when I was four months pregnant, I was walking in the street with a friend when a gang of drug dealers attacked us. Fortunately, I was able to escape, but not my friend. She was raped in this alley and killed. I can still hear her screaming in my head.”
Together with Plan International Australia, local girls in Kampala are taking a stand against violence and street harassment, calling upon the Kampala City Authority with a petition to take serious action.
Will you stand with girls to help end street harassment in Kampala?
All it takes is a signature.
As part of Plan international’s Safer Cities Program in Kampala, girls like Faridah are campaigning to:
- ensure adequate security lighting on all streets in and around Kampala city
- demolish unfinished buildings that pose a risk to safety of many girls and young women
- ensure every street is named for ease of movement and effective response in cases of threats to safety
- ensure all building plans provide easy access for persons with a disability
- clean trenches to avoid flooding
- ensure public toilets are adequate, accessible and safe
- create an awareness campaign on the causes and impacts of violence and harassment on girls
Already, the Safer Cities program has proven to be an essential tool for girls to create change, with the city taking steps to make those darkened streets safer.
“With Plan International, we formed a group of young people. I became the president. Together, we go through what is problematic and look for solutions in the neighbourhood.” Shares Faridah. “In the alley where my friend was attacked, there is now light.”
Take a stand. Sign the petition to help girls in Kampala make their city safer.