Street harassment in Maastricht
Over the last few months, members of the Facebook page “Sharing is Caring Maastricht” might have noticed an increasing number of posts, mostly by women, warning of incidents of street harassment they have recently experienced. Similarly, inhabitants of Maastricht may have stumbled across nasty statements written with colorful chalk on the sidewalks of the city. These statements are catcalls or other forms of street harassment that people have reported to Catcalls of Maastricht (CoM).
Catcalls of Maastricht & WeCare
Catcalls of Maastricht (CoM) was founded in September 2020 with the purpose to highlight street harassment in Maastricht. Inspired by @catcallsofnyc and many similar projects around the world, the page visualises people’s experiences of street harassment.
People who experienced catcalling in Maastricht can send their story to the page, CoM goes to the place where it happened, and chalks a description of the catcall on the ground. All messages are treated completely confidential and the catcall descriptions are always translated into Dutch and English.
CoM aims to raise awareness for the everyday nature of catcalling and other forms of street harassment, in an attempt to reclaim public spaces. To further support people that experienced any form of sexual harassment, CoM informs in posts about organisations where people can seek mental or psychological support. Such an organization is WeCare, a student organization whose primary goal is to educate people on the topic of sexual violence. Additionally, WeCare also helps any person who has experienced sexual violence with legal, medical, and psychological assistance.
Together, WeCare and CoM have partnered to create a map that visualizes street harassment in Maastricht, using the locations provided to CoM.
One might notice that, so far, many of the incidents of street harassment are concentrated along Grote Gracht and Brusselsestraat. Both CoM and WeCare want to stress that this map is not intended to highlight areas that people should avoid in order to reduce their chances of being street harassed. This map was created with the intention of extending CoM’s mission of highlighting street harassment in Maastricht. To this end, avoiding areas where street harassment takes place is akin to victim blaming, and does not address the problem at hand. It should also be noted that most of the people who have reported to CoM are students, and thus, streets that are frequented by students, are likely to contain many incidents. Additionally, there is often little evidence for street harassment after the fact.
Furthermore, many people may not wish to start a formal legal proceeding but just want more attention from the authorities on this problem. In these cases, one might consider filing a melding at the police station, or anonymously at meld misdaad anoniem (English).
A melding notifies the police about your experience, without initiating a legal proceeding. You do not need any evidence to file a melding, and so we encourage taking this action because if enough meldings are filed about street harassment in a certain area, it may encourage police to patrol the location more frequently. Another option is to call the non-emergency number of the police.
Every situation regarding harassment is different and requires tailored measures to the person’s case and needs.
Non-emergency for questions or to make an appointment:
- Local police: 0900-8844* (base rate of 9.51 cents and 2.8 cents per minute)
- Text phone for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing: 0900-1844*
- Report Crime Anonymously: 0800-7000 (free of charge)
- Fill in the police’s contact form (English), so they can contact you.
If you are abroad call at: +31-343 57 8844
If you, or anybody you know, has experienced street harassment or sexual violence and would like confidential support, we urge you to contact WeCare. WeCare can go through all your options, help you set up appointments with UM’s psychologist and/or confidential advisor, and assist you in taking legal action if that is what you wish.
If you prefer to go at this yourself, the following are helpful resources at your disposal:
Psychological and Emotional Support
Catcalls of Maastricht
Aims to raise awareness for the everyday nature of catcalling and other forms of street harassment