Dear Men of Santa Marta,
I’ve never felt more uncomfortable in a city. Unable to walk down the street without being kissed at, yelled at, and verbally harassed. I tried to ignore it and blame it on your culture. Then tonight happened. I’m walking alone, listening to my favorite podcast, trying to ignore your cat calls. All of the sudden, someone grabs me. Grabs my ass with such aggression that it put me into a state of shock. I look and see a man smirking on a motorcycle. He zooms past me with a look of domination, like he was proud of his actions.
My boyfriend asked our boss shortly after we arrived why so many men love to make women feel uncomfortable, overpower them, and objectify them in Santa Marta. “Oh it’s the heat, it makes them angry and horny,” he responds.
I’m here to say as a woman, as a human being, this is NOT okay. You cannot blame it on the heat or on your lack of education or that “maybe some women like it.” I refuse to accept this as a cultural norm. I want to enjoy your country, I love almost everything about it. And yet I’m left crying, feeling completely violated, stripped of my power as you ride off on your motorcycle like a coward.
You huddle in groups and yell profanities at me. You stare and lick your lips at my body. You whistle at me. Regardless of whether I’m next to my boyfriend. Or if I try to hide my body. Regardless of whether you are with your family or children. I’ve been harassed by men holding on to the hand of their son. You sick excuse for a father. Teaching your son to make women feel less than.
Just in case no one has told you before. I do not like to be treated this way. WE do not like to be treated this way. It is disrespectful. It makes us feel extremely uncomfortable. We DO NOT want to hear your comments, your whistles, your kissing noises. We do not want to be grabbed or touched or raped.
My middle finger has not been successful in stopping the sexually harassment or assault. So, I’m here to publicly tell you to stop.
Female travelers deserve to be left alone regardless of what we are wearing or if we are walking alone. Do not ruin our experience and leave us with a terrible memory of your city and of your country.
Men of Santa Marta, you need to do better.
A human fucking being
As always, thanks for reading! If anyone knows how to send this letter somehow to each individual man in Santa Marta, please do. ❤
I realize a lot more men outside of Santa Marta might need a special letter as well. Maybe I should have addressed it to all men, but I’ve felt a distinct discomfort here that is beyond what I have experienced in the past. Thankfully, I am not being forced to live here. To be honest, this is not the first time it has happened. I’m sure every single female traveler (or woman in general) has a story to tell. But that does not make it okay. We are not deserving of this kind of behavior.
Ladies — What are your thoughts/experiences with harassment abroad? Does cat calling bother you? What are some cities you would have written a mass letter to? Does harassment effect where you want to travel?