Former Miss Universe Maria Thattil tells of the moment she stood up to three men who were harassing her in a parking lot in Melbourne.
Former Miss Universe Maria Thattil has shared the frightening moment she was cat summoned by three men who “howled” at her “like a dog” in a parking lot in Melbourne.
The 29-year-old was alone at the time, saying she was already “nervous” about parking her car due to three men strolling in the isolated parking lot – and it didn’t take long before the harassment began.
After leaving her vehicle, she remembered how the group began to howl after her “like a dog” and shout “why are you so fine?” as she tried to enter her building.
“I just parked my car and I was nervous about parking my car because there were three guys in the parking lot, it was a bit isolated,” she explained in an Instagram video with the text “another day, another incident” .
“I just parked my car anyway and I think ‘Oh, I’m going back to my building,’ and immediately the cat calls. ‘Why are you so fine?’ And howls at me like a dog.
Angry and sad, Maria decided to fight back against her harassment by calling them on their behavior – and was met with a surprising response.
“I literally turned around and I think, ‘I just want to tell you I do not appreciate being called because it literally does not make me feel safe,'” she said.
“You know what? They actually apologized. They were like ‘you know what, no, we’re actually sorry’.”
In a follow-up video, she stated that although she was happy that they apologized, she would not “applaud mediocre basic behavior.”
“They could have turned around and been super aggressive, it could have gone any way.
“But I just think we see enough, we hear enough, and women talk enough about it now that I think you have enough access to information to know that it’s not cool to call cats, and it makes people feel insecure, so do not do it. “
After sharing her experiences, Miss Universe Australia said in 2020 that she received a stream of messages from women who had also been subjected to street harassment.
Maria also noted in later Instagram stories that even though she felt confident standing up to her harassers this time, women need to exercise caution before striking back at catcallers.
“There are a number of different ways you can respond to catcalling, and I think it’s really important to stand up to street harassment,” she said.
“But if it compromises your safety or your well-being in any way, do not do it.
“For me, I handed down a verdict at that moment. It was daylight, I had enough space between myself and those gentlemen to say what I wanted to say.
“But sometimes it’s insecure, and I don’t think you have to put your safety at risk to engage with such people.”