A young woman called Tellie contacted us to ask if we had stickers to put over the adverts for prostituted women that get put up on all the lamp posts and phone boxes in her area of east London. She said she spends hours pulling them off but within a few days they’re back again. She wanted to put up stickers explaining that prostitution is exploitation of vulnerable women and girls. She said that prostitution has become normalised in the area in the last few years and men’s harassment has got significantly worse.
This is what she said:
“Nearly every time I go out now, no matter what time of day, I get men harassing me and trying to buy me. On Wednesday two men tried to buy me for sex within a five minute period when I was walking from Leyton Station. It was at about 5:30 pm. I was across the street from the Library when these two instances happened.
On Friday three men tried to buy me. I was turning the corner onto Jewel Road off Hoe Street, when they tried to buy me in front of my five-year old at 6:00 pm and even though I’m clearly pregnant.
It makes me feel afraid and uneasy about going out. And so disrespected and unsafe. I’m afraid to say anything back because they might attack me if I do. And I don’t want to lose my baby if one of them kicks off.
The whole area is plastered with adverts for prostitution. They’re everywhere. And I do think this has made men more bold and think it’s OK to just proposition women on the street.
Sadly Friday was not the first time a man has tried to buy me in front of my five-year old. It’s happened before in the market at Walthamstow Central as well. I’ve also had men driving past me and throwing rubbish out the window at me and yelling ‘Slut’.
I don’t feel safe where I live anymore. It wasn’t like this in 2010. You still got men asking your number and saying sexual things to you on the street. But they were not trying to buy you like they are now. It’s a big problem now.”
Her friend, Anne, said:
“The other day a guy who looked about 20 shouted, ‘Slut, slag,’ at me. Another day a van of twenty-something men on Hoe Street shouted out, ‘You’re really working that ass.’
Another day an Asian man who looked about 65 or 70 said, ‘Will you be my special lady friend?’ Another Asian man made kissing noises as I walked past him. He appeared to be about 50.
A few guys at the Algerian cafe on Hoe Street stood in front of me and refused to move – it was really intimidating behaviour. That’s happened more than once outside those Algerian cafes.
It has gotten worse and it needs to be clamped down on. I can’t BEAR being made to feel unsafe while out and about. I even saw a young girl being catcalled by a much older man (not that age matters) last week and I tackled him on it. He just laughed in my face. That was near High Street Market, past the Rose and Crown.
I’m no spring chicken, I’m a grandmother. These men have no shame and they need to be named and shamed. It makes me fecking mad. I’ll report it next time”
Another friend, Rose said:
“I had some tosser pull up in his car inviting me to go in so we can have sex. This happened off Hoe Street. I told him to fuck off.”