A female fitness coach is calling on the public to stand against street harassment after her experience at a park in Navotas City last week.
“Street harassment is about power, there is no right or wrong response when you’re already in a situation. Just do something for yourself, show assertiveness and strength. Ask for help if you need to. Be also vigilant if ever you will be put in a situation like what I’ve experienced. Be alert and think of the best way to save yourself,” coach Seannah Swift said in a Facebook post.
This came after Swift shared her experience while jogging at the Navotas Centennial Park on November 7 when three unidentified men, two of which were apparently minors, “physically” harassed her through “bumping on” her “left boob” and trying to intimidate her.
“What happened…was a physical harassment. Start of my training, 5:34pm… Just seconds after I turned on the GPS on my watch, someone’s shoulder bumped really hard on my chest. He hit my left boob,” she said.
Seeing the man, Swift said, she tried to avoid him after “perceiv[ing] what was in his mind” but he still blocked her “way and dang…. He was with two other guys, ages are around 16 to 20.”
“I knew it was a plan,” she continued in mixed English and Filipino. “The moment I felt I was harassed, I pushed him and punched. He got speechless for few seconds, finally he said ‘You’re brave, Miss, aren’t you?… ‘What I did was unintentional.’ [But] I stood tall and acted brave, ‘What you did was intentional, are you insane? [while] showing my fist ‘Are you going to fight?'”
After the confrontation, Swift said, she continued her activity while the men walked away.
However, moments later, she said, she saw the men again “approaching” her.
“I slowed down. I thought if I continue running fast he might suddenly stab me then jump off to the sea. So I slowed down, jogged towards where they were as there is no other way for a reroute. The same guy blocked my way for the second time, I stopped but kept a distance.” she said.
“Paulit ulit silang nagsorry but body language is giving me a hint that they are trapping me. ‘Yong isa umiikot sa likod ko (They kept apologizing but their body language was giving me a hint that they would trap me. One of them was already going behind me),” she added.
Luckily, two police officers in civilian clothing witnessed the incident and intervened.
Although the three men managed to escape, Swift expressed her gratitude to the police officers for their assistance. She said, the lawmen even tried to chase the harassers and launched a manhunt against them, but they already jumped off the Manila Bay.
“I hope that this will serve as a warning to many harassers who think that a simple bump or catcall can be set aside. It is against women’s rights and against the law. And this applies not only to women but victims can be a man, LGBTs, children, our elders. Let’s do something to stop street harassment,” she said.
In a Facebook post on Monday night, Mayor Toby Tiangco condemned the incident and said that “street and any form of harassment” has no place in the city.
“Each one of us should have the liberty to move around the city without fear or risk of getting abused,” Tiangco said.
The local chief executive also asked his constituents to reach out to the local government should they know the identities or the whereabouts of the harassers.