On the first day back at school, Tammy had her bum slapped by a boy in the grade above. It wasn’t the first time it happened. But it was time to say ‘no more!’ to boys at school not respecting her, or any other girl. So this time Tammy decided to take on her harassers – and won!
Here’s how she did it:
Know your rights: Tammy knew this behaviour wasn’t right. She knew that girls have the right not to be touched and to have their bodies and space respected. Girls have just as much of a right to enjoy their education as boys. She would no longer accept the response from teachers that ‘boys will be boys’.
Raise awareness: Tammy gathered stories of girls in her grade and her school who this happened to. She was surprised at how many girls shared her experience and were just as angry that boys were not being punished. She shared these stories with her parents, who shared it with other parents until it was raised with the school.
Don’t listen to the haters: People will tell you not to speak up. But if something makes you uncomfortable, or disrespects your rights, speaking up is the best thing you can do. Like Tammy, you can always talk to people you trust. Your big sister, your parents, a teacher or your friends – whoever has your back. Listen to the voices of people who love you and block out the haters.
Own your power: Know that you have the power to change things. Never let people make you believe that being a girl is somehow less than being a boy. Every day, around the world, young girls and women are re-making their communities. Even small acts of bravery, like asking someone if they are okay, can have a huge impact.
By speaking up and sharing the voices of other girls, Tammy was able to pressure the school, who agreed to stricter punishments for boys who harassed girls at school.
Next time someone tries to tell you ‘boys will be boys’, know you have the right to raise your voice and resist. You don’t need to take it on like Tammy, but you can always keep an eye out for other girls who share your experiences. There is strength in numbers and together your voices can rise into a roar.