It’s a new  terrible tendency, whose term derives from the fusion of two english terms: “cat and calling”. It is a verbal harassment towards women met on the streets. It consists in unwanted comments, gestures, whistles, and sexual advances in public areas such as streets, shopping malls, transportation and parks. The phenomenon is growing and affects many women who no longer feel free to walk down the street and wear whatever they want. Sometimes they include sexual and homophobic insults and comments. It started in 1956, but at that time it was just a sound like a lament directed towards unwelcomed artists in theatre. In France, in 2018 the government approved a law which punishes up to 750 euros people who practice this aggressive behaviour. The same happens in the USA and in Perù. For some people it is not a sexist behavour but a form of appreciation when a man sees a wonderful woman. The debate is still open, and today it involves a lot of famous people from the world of politics to the world of culture and common people. On the contrary, in Italy, as in many other countries, this phenomenon is not yet considered a crime. Indeed, there is more. In fact, there are those who believe that qualifying such an attitude as a criminally punishable behavior risks damaging the “freedom of individuals to court and approach others”. However, those who support this vision forget that at the basis of human relationships there is consent and, when this is lacking, the victim’s freedom of self-determination cannot fail to be considered. It is therefore clear why catcalling does not yet integrate any type of crime in Italy and it is improper to classify it as harassment or persecutory act.However, even if it can not be considered a violence in its real meaning, it leaves a sense of restlessness and fear that does not allow women to walk quietly alone on the street, even at night. I think that something should be done in respect of our freedom and safety.



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Gaia Pecoraro


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