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    Posted August 28, 2013 by
    cpellegrin
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Speaking up about sexual violence

    Under Pressure

     
    I was offered a scolarship to study in Quito, Ecuador, when I was sixteen. Though it wasn't New Delhi, I was warned about the attitude of men in southern american countries. I am white, very white some would say, and was identified as a ''gringo'' from the very second I stepped off the airplane to the day I learned enough spanish and tanned, then people ''just thought'' I was a rich ecuadorian, which is still a bad thing to be over there.

    No one could have warned me enough. At the airport, I was approached over 10 times within the hour I spent there. The next day, I went for a walk and was insulted, whistled at, honked at, touched and someone even made a gross mimic of a sexual act while I was waiting for a streetlight to change colours. Ecuador is a beautiful country, the people there were in general really generous, interesting and open, but as in any country, there are exceptions. Those exceptions made my life there (which was already difficult) a nightmare. For the first two weeks of my stay, I was basically a joke of a gringo. Men and young boys would target me as the perfect person to ''tease''. To them, it was only jokes. Then, it got a little better. My skin tanned, my accent softhenned. I was a little better off, but still scared of taking taxis, and I was forbidden from walking outside after dark (which is at 6:30 pm or earlier).

    Two months later, I left. I was suffering from clinical depression and had trouble getting up in the morning, was physically sick from the stress and slept over 12 hours per night. I was shipped back to Canada. But not before I got my last taste of disgusting behavior....

    From a security officer of the airport!

    I was being randomly searched and a box of preservatives (unoppened) was found in my suitcase. I was taken aside and asked if they were mine, then made fun of for the next half hour, pointed at. Then, they asked me how old I was, and that was just even funnier apparently. I felt like a cheap prostitute.

    This is Ecuador. And this is just one example of how I have been treated like an object in my life. I don't dress improperly and even if I did, this would not be acceptable.

    Something has to be done. I will not stand by as my children one day grow up in a world where women are a joke.
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