Street harassment incidences documented in Sao Paolo. Photo: Chega de Fiu Fiu
Juliana de Faria's first experience of street harassment was at age 11, walking home from a bakery in Sao Paolo.
"He said things to me that you could never print in your paper," she told The Telegraph. "I was too young to fully understand what had happened, but I felt violated and I started to cry."
At the time, an elderly woman nearby told her to take it as a compliment.
Juliana de Faria, founder of Think OLGA and Chega de Fiu Fiu. Photo: thinkolga.com
Fifteen years later, Juliana decided she was fed up with just accepting harassment as a "compliment" when it was clearly an entirely different thing. She started Chega de Fiu Fiu ("Enough with the Catcalls"), an online map in which women can document their experiences with verbal and physical assaults. It serves not just as a community in which women can vent and support each other, but as documentary evidence that harassment is real, and it is as serious problem - not something women should just be expected to take as a 'compliment'.
Juliana said at first, "even renowned journalists trashed the campaign," saying catcalls were nothing to complain about. But the project that began in Sao Paolo has now gone nationwide, it's been featured in media outlets around the world, and Juliana is writing a guide on street harassment in partnership with the Public Attorney's Office of Sao Paolo. It's making a difference.
"It's going to take some time until we change this behaviour for good," Juliana said. "But street harassment is now being seen as assault - and that's the beginning of real change."