I was in Ethiopia recently and was catcalled all the time by guys driving cars. Mostly they would honk, I’d turn my head, and they’d say “Salam (Hi) Sister!” or “How are you?” or “Where are you from?” or they’d wave and smile when I waved back.
One time, though, I was walking back to my hotel around dusk and a guy pulled up next to me in his taxi, did the usual honk, “Salam Sister!” Then things took a turn.
GUY: Sister, please, get in the car. I will take you anywhere you like, good price.
ME: Thank you, but I’m fine to walk. My destination is not far.
GUY: But you are very pretty, I want to drive you somewhere. Where are you from?
ME: Thank you, really, but I prefer to walk.
Then the guy got out of his car, just left his car on the side of the road (they do that in Ethiopia), and approached me.
GUY: If you won’t get in the car, then please let me walk with you to your destination.
ME: Really, I can handle this, it’s not even dark and it’s not far to walk. Please leave me alone.
GUY: (whispering) There is a gang of boys back there running to catch you. I will walk with you.
Sure enough, there was a group of boys that I had passed earlier on the walk that were now running my way. Sure enough, they approached us en masse to ask for money and food. Upon arrival to the hotel and now rummaging through my bag for some money for this guy…
ME: Thank you for walking me, can I pay you something for your time?
GUY: No, no. But you call me when you need a taxi ride. I’ll make a safe journey for you. (Hands me his card with phone number).
Last time I was in Philadelphia, I also had a catcalling experience involving a guy driving a taxi around dusk while I was walking back to a hotel.
GUY: Hey there pretty lady, how about you get in my car and I’ll take you anywhere you like. A nice hotel maybe, back to my place, I’m very flexible…
ME: No thank you, I’m very happy to walk.
GUY: Oh, come on mami, I guarantee your enjoyment!
ME: Thanks, but no thanks. I’m going to walk.
GUY: I banged your mother last night and she loved it. You will too.
ME: Oh! Now that turns the tide here and really changes my mind about it…
Remind me again how we DON’T have a problem with sexual harassment in this country?