Feminist film-poem puts street harassment under the lens

Photo Above: Hopscotch Poster  © Nadine Aisha

Edinburgh-based poet and activist Nadine Aisha published a film adaptation of her poem ‘Hopscotch’.

The award-winning filmmaker Roxana Vilk directed the film, which talks about street harassment against women-of-colour, for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Vilk said: “It was important to make the film in such a way that the viewer really gets a sense of what it feels like to be walking down a street as an ethnic minority woman experiencing this constant harassment.”

Aisha and Vilk spoke to young ethnic minority women working with Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre and Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, who both co-produced the project, to bring the most important issues to the fore.

Vilk said: “We recorded the young women’s voices speaking the poem as a chorus.

“So the film also carries an underlying feel of the collective women’s outcry at this continued harassment that still exists today.”

The poem ‘Hopscotch’ first appeared in Aisha’s debut poetry pamphlet Still last year and was then reproduced on Bella Caledonia’s website.

It gives a semi-autobiographical document of the street harassment Aisha has experienced as a Muslim woman-of-colour in the UK.

She said: “I first decided to write ‘Hopscotch’ because I was sick and tired of carrying around all the words of men harassing me in public places. I was an activist involved in Hollaback!

“Edinburgh at the time, and had been delivering workshops on the role of street harassment in perpetuating rape culture – and was angered to hear how many women carried with them the abuse that had been hurled at them.”

In 2013, Hollaback! Edinburgh published statistics finding that 80% of young people aged 12-25 had experienced harassment.

In 2015, the charity Tell Mama UK also found that the number of Islamophobic hate crimes had increased by 300%, and that the majority of these attacks were made against Muslim women by white men in public places.

Aisha tackles gender-based violence by delivering creative writing workshops on the topic in schools around Scotland.

She has been nominated for the Young Women Scot’s 30 Under 30 Award for her feminist writing and activism.

The film “Hopscotch” was first screened on Wednesday 25 November at the Women of the Lens film festival in London.

It will now be shown on three dates across Scotland: today (Wednesday 29 November) at NUS Scotland in Glasgow; Wednesday 6 December at NUS Scotland in Aberdeen; and Saturday 9 December at The Film House in Edinburgh.