We confronted a pair of street harassers in Rugby town centre - they didn't have much to say for themselves

They went from spouting a vile remark about female genitalia to being completely silent and then speeding off

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 6:40 pm
The Seat, as it sped off into the afternoon sun.

In recent weeks many women have come forward to share with the Advertiser their accounts of street harassment.

Thousands of words of these horrific accounts, which comprised anything from a single sexual remark to outright physical attack, made for harrowing reading.

Residents reacted in support of the women who were brave enough to share difficult memories with all of us, showing us just how prevalent the problem is.

These deeply upsetting and angering accounts were still fresh on the mind this afternoon, March 31, when we witnessed an instance of street harassment.

Here we should add a caveat - we are not encouraging that you directly confront these people. That is entirely up to you.

We do, however, urge you to document any incidents you see and, where necessary, report them to the police.

The incident happened very quickly, this reporter was cycling through the town centre when two young men in a black Seat came past.

Both windows were down and, shortly after they'd passed me, one of them shouted a phrase, which included a derogatory word for female genitalia, into the street.

It is unclear precisely who they were shouting at - but the phrase they used, and the moment they did it, suggested it was directed towards a pedestrian, and very likely a woman.

Off they sped, probably congratulating themselves on a job well done.

Except about 100 metres down the road the lights had turned red, and this reporter caught up with them.

I pulled to the rear left of their car, leaving enough space to react should things deteriorate.

I ask them why they are shouting.

Nothing.

I ask again.

Nothing.

These two men, who seconds ago felt emboldened to shout very rude things at someone in the street are suddenly, miraculously, silent.

Passers-by don't seem to notice what's going on.

Those that do notice have no idea of the context so they stand and stare, probably thinking I've lost the plot.

The lights change, and little Seat speeds off, but not before I manage to open my phone's camera app and get a shot of the car.

Maybe it was the fact there were many witnesses, or maybe they felt embarrassed for having their behaviour challenged - but they clearly didn't want to stay and chat.

So what can we learn from this?

If people are willing to do this in broad daylight, on a crowded street in our town centre, it's no surprise that our inbox has been filled with accounts of far more severe things happening on quiet, dark streets.

Second, these people are ultimately cowards.

They will pick on who they consider to be vulnerable or weaker than them, but they lack the courage to account for their actions when asked to do so.

If these two chaps are reading this, I would urge you to have a look at our recent report, highlighting the effect your behaviour can have on people. ('I just want to feel safe walking down my street' - Rugby women share accounts of harassment and sexual assault)

Whatever flawed interpretation of what it means to be a man you are both working with - it fell apart today, and you should view it as a chance to become better versions of yourselves.

One of you made the remark and the other sat by and let it happen - you are both responsible.

If your conscience is not enough to stop you both behaving like this, realise that your actions can have bad consequences for you both, too.

As stated before, I am not completely sure exactly which person your tasteless remark was directed towards, but should a resident come forward and identify themselves as a sure recipient of it - I will assist them in reporting your behaviour to the police, complete with vehicle registration and a description of both of you.

The town centre also has CCTV which, given that I can provide the exact time of the incident, will be easily retrievable.