Women experiencing everyday sexism and verbal harassment in the street is so widespread and often so distressing for the victim that earlier this year, one UK police force expanded its definition of hate crimes to include misogynistic behaviour such as wolf-whistling and uninvited verbal advances.
And sadly, most of us know exactly what it feels like to be caught in the lose-lose respond-or-ignore conundrum – each option risking further unwanted interaction.
Now one woman says her decision to ignore two men catcalling her resulted in one of them running her over with a moped, leaving her unconscious.
Pagan-Lilley Motlagh-Phillips says she was on her way home from Lakeside shopping centre in Rainham when two men on a moped approached her. One of the men reportedly called out “Are you alright, darling?” and, when she didn’t give a response, drove up alongside her and told her to stop ignoring him.
She told Buzzfeed that her brother, who was with her at the time, intervened – and the driver of the moped threatened to run them over.
Horrifyingly, he made good on his threat.
Taking to Twitter to speak out about the incident, she wrote: “I was run over and then reversed back over by two white males who I didn’t know.
“All because I wouldn’t talk to them.”
She added: “He did this in daylight on a summer afternoon outside a supermarket, with no care if the police caught him or if I died.
“Then, just in case I wasn’t already in enough pain, reversed over my unconscious body and drove off.”
Motlagh-Phillips says she was knocked to the ground and trapped beneath the bike during the incident, and an ambulance was quickly called to take her to hospital.
Police later arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the incident, but he was released with no further action.
She claims that she was told by a senior officer that the case was closed “pending further evidence coming to light”, and that a senior officer told her that “violent muggings and stabbings had to be prioritised”.
Speaking on Twitter, Motlagh-Phillips has said that using a moped to intentionally harm someone is the same as using a weapon.
“How is that any different to the mindset of someone who stabs someone? It’s not. He took a weapon and he used it.”
Motlagh-Phillips has criticised the police openly on her Twitter account for their handling of her case, but added that she didn’t want to “breed hatred” for the force.
In an open letter to the officers who handled her case, which she published on social media, the teenager said: “There were several witnesses, it happened in broad daylight, there is CCTV, yet you are unable to make an arrest.
“I am traumatised, I can’t sleep without medication and going to work every day is becoming harder and harder. He could have seriously injured me or even worse killed me.
“I’m 5ft 5in and 9 stone, it doesn’t take much force to hurt someone of my build.”
She added that the attack has shattered her confidence, and that she feels forced to disguise herself each morning when she wakes up.
“Every day I battle," said Motlagh-Phillips. "Getting ready in the mornings has become a chore of me attempting to make myself look as different as possible to the day I was run over.
“He didn’t just run me over he took my confidence, my confidence in myself and people in general and now the investigation has taken my confidence away from the police.”
In a statement to Buzzfeed News, the Met said they had launched a social media campaign about the incident, and added that they had exhausted every possible lead in the investigation.
They said: “All possible investigative leads have been explored and the investigation has concluded but should any additional information come to light which will help to identify the suspects this will be reviewed by the investigating team.”
They added: “Anyone who is not satisfied with the work of MPS officers may choose to make a (further) complaint to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards.”
Anyone with information about this incident should call 101 using the reference number 5409597/16.