Staying Safe On The Streets - Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka

Staying Safe On The Streets

Here's how Sri Lankan girls do it.

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Being a girl is tough, especially on this island.

There’s nothing worse than not even being able to go out and get some McDonalds with your girlfriends without attracting unwanted, and frankly disgusting attention from men. 

Even as a 16-year-old, who literally looks 10 (thanks, braces), it’s almost impossible to avoid being cat-called, stared at or followed around by creeps on the street. 

Recently, some of my female friends were at Galle Face and decided to head over to TGIF for dinner, because, you know, the ribs. Once they started their trek they noticed a group of men in their 20s following them. In order to stay safe, they walked a little faster. But, the men were still behind them. They then decided to take a different route to reach the restaurant in hopes of shaking these men off. No such luck. They continued following them and began cat-calling, asking the girls where they were from, where they schooled and where they were going. So the girls started randomly crossing the street, hoping the men would take off. It didn’t work. By this time, my friends had already reached the safe gates of TGIF and went inside. The men stood around for a while and then turned back. 

My friends aren’t alone in this experience. It happens every day to some group of girls just trying to have a meal, get to school or travel home from work. Although it’s sad, there’s very little we can do to stop men behaving like this. All we can do is prepare ourselves for it. Here’s how:

1. Travel In Packs

Although the fact that girls always go to the bathroom in packs has become something of a joke, it’s always the best option. A pack mentality is ideal for staying safe in public areas. You’re less likely to be attacked or followed when you’re with a group (though that didn’t really work for my friends.) So, make some friends and stick with them. ‘Cause remember, Moaning Myrtle went to the bathroom alone, and look what happened to her. It’s probably a good idea to have a guy friend in your group, too.

2. Send Me Your Location

Make sure that someone always knows where you are, at all times. When you get to the restaurant, text your friend, your mom or anyone really. When you arrive at the gym, tell someone. It won’t cost you much time, but it will definitely keep you safe, and that’s what’s important.

3. Cool With The Crowd 

When out with friends, try to hang out in largely populated areas, not isolated corners of a park or abandoned streets. Never be alone with another group of strangers. You’re safer with other strangers around.

4. Lights Will Guide You Home (Literally)

ALWAYS travel on well-lit streets.

5. All Charged Up

Whenever you leave the house, make sure your phone is fully charged, and if possible, carry a portable charger with you. This way you can always make a call in an emergency.

6. Ding, Dong, Ditch 

If you feel like someone is following you, try taking another route, or walk in a circle. If you’re on the way home, then walk a little further than your house, step back, allow them to pass, wait a while, and then walk back home. Yes, it sounds excessive, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

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