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'Chalk Back' Sees Kenyan Women Fighting Back Against Street Sexual Harassment

Kenyan women and girls in Kibera are using chalk to literally document their experiences with sexual harassment on the very streets they've been harassed.

Kenyan women and girls living in Kibera, one of the largest informal settlements on the continent, are fed up with being sexually harassed daily on the streets by men.

In a campaign dubbed "Chalk Back", women and young girls are using chalk to document their experiences with sexual harassment on the same streets they've been harassed, according to the BBC.


Twenty-two-year-old Zubeida Yusuf has lived in Kiberia, Nairobi for the majority of her life. According to her, being sexually harassed on the streets by men is commonplace. "Men will say things like: 'You're fat. Is your mother a butcher? Did God use his last piece of clay on you because you have large breasts and a big behind.'" She describes how this daily harassment has not only affected her but other women and young girls saying, "'It's a lot for us to take in and when we walk out here [in the streets]."

Yusuf is now championing the "Chalk Back", an anti-sexual harassment campaign launched by Plan International to enable conversations around the effects of street sexual harassment on both young girls and women. Women and young girls are writing about their own experiences with street sexual harassment as well as targeted messages to men on the same streets that they continue to be harassed.

Plan International carried out a survey of street harassment in five cities. The CEO of Plan International, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, says that, "Our research shows that girls face relentless sexual harassment daily and that even when girls speak out, the authorities fail to respond to their complaints." Albrectsen adds that, "Street harassment and threats of violence affect their ability to access education, to work, to use public transport and lead full lives."

The "Chalk Back" campaign is a part of this year's 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

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