Photographer Eliza Hatch was hanging out with a group of friends when all of the women present realized they had something in common – they were all being regularly harassed in public places by men.
The men in the friend group were shocked, and couldn’t believe how frequently their own friends had to deal with this type of abuse. Hatch realized that public sexual harassment is a daily occurrence, but that it is often overlooked as an issue. Even victims often brush it off because of how commonplace it is. That is why Hatch was inspired to create Cheer Up Luv.
Cheer Up Luv is a photo series by Hatch that aims to raise awareness about the sexual harassment of women in cities or public places, while also acting as a platform for women to share their harassment experiences of any scale. The photographs feature women in the environment in which they have been harassed, juxtaposed with short but powerful stories describing their experiences.
“Cheer Up Luv is about that one time you were shouted at on the bus, and when that car beeped its horn at you on the way to school,” says Hatch. “Ultimately, it’s for any time that you have felt sexually uncomfortable in a public space.”
Cheer Up Luv features women from London, Hatch’s hometown, where it has been reported that 85 percent of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed in public places. However, street harassment plagues women worldwide. Hatch hopes that Cheer Up Luv will catalyze a more widespread movement toward increased education about harassment – not only for adults, but for children as well.
“I really wanted to capture the woman [who was harassed] in her surroundings,” says Hatch. “Instead of it being somewhere where she felt vulnerable, I wanted to make it a stage for her to speak out from. And I wanted you to actually look into her eyes as you’re hearing her story.”
Here are a couple of stories from the collection:
“Between the ages of 14 and 16, I had random men masturbate whilst staring directly at me three times. Each time I was at a bus stop, each time I was alone except for the men, and each time I was in my school uniform,” said Idil.
“I was 19 and had just moved to Paris. I was on a crowded train and this guy put his hands on my hips and started grinding on me. I stepped on his toes as hard as I could and finally he let go. I stormed out of the train straight after,” said Juliette.
“I was at a bus stop on my own until a suited man walked over and started talking to me. He forced himself onto me and I pushed him away. I saw my bus and got on; he followed me on and tried to run his hand up my skirt. I screamed and told him to fuck off, but nobody believed I was in danger. I ran down the stairs, pressed the bell and he got off the bus. He told me he had to walk me home as he lived nearby, I refused and he still followed me at every turn …,” said Reannon.
“One day I was in the subway in Paris and a man in a suit asked if I had a phone number. I said no, and he spat on my shoes three times. Nobody in the station moved a finger. The metro finally came, and the man stayed on the platform and went straight to another girl,” said Julie.
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