Tom Goodenough, Mail on Sunday (London), August 4, 2012
Many women face the daily problem of being jeered at or greeted with cat-calls as they walk down the street.
Fed up of the constant abuse she was suffering, one film-student in Brussels decided to film the comments of passers-by that made walking through the city streets a misery.
The resulting footage paints a shocking picture of the sexism still being endured by many women today.
Wolf-whistled and faced with abuse and questions asking her for sex and ‘how much do you cost?’, Sofie Peeter’s film – which she submitted for her final student project – makes for a disturbing account of the everyday sexism on the streets of Brussels.
The Brussels film academy student used a hidden camera to record many of the scenes and also interviewed other students to learn more about their similar experiences.
The documentary, called ‘Femme de la Rue’, has now also been broadcast live on Belgian TV – the showing of which started a flood of testimonies from women on Twitter telling of similar experiences.
But the film student who made the documentary says she is hopeful that it can have a positive impact upon reducing sexism and could ‘break the silence about the subject and open the dialogue for more mutual understanding and respect.’
Speaking on Belgian TV, she said: ‘These advances hurt me a lot and I had the feeling I was on my own.
‘Primarily, I would like to see that more women comprehend that they are not the only ones but, this affects a lot of women.’
She said that she received 70-80 testimonies by e-mail corroborating her experiences after putting a request on the internet for other women to get in touch.
Other testimonies from women in the film also back-up Peeters’ disturbing account.
‘It happens seldom that I walk in the street without anyone bothering me,’ said one woman in the film.
‘Walking down the street as a woman, you know that the street doesn’t belong to you.’
Whilst another said that she changed her walking route and appearance based on the abuse she anticipated.
‘I do take it seriously, I am scared. I change the way I dress, the way I walk and how I dress.’
Belgian politicians have responded to the film footage by saying legislation to crack-down on sexual harassment is already being considered.