Introducing Mabel Zwaan, a 27-year-old journalist, philosopher, and media ethicist, residing in a cozy house filled with books and a chunky black cat. “Back in 2017, I launched an initiative to raise awareness about sexual intimidation at concerts and festivals,”. This initiative quickly evolved into a national campaign that still stands today, and now, she brings her diverse passions to her role at FairSpace, where she’s worked for the past two months.
FairSpace and the Transformative Experience:
Mabel’s brief time at FairSpace has already transformed her perspective. “On my second day, I got to do a slightly improvised training at a music venue in Tilburg. It was a real baptism of fire and very educational. In my previous projects, I also focused on bystanders, but I had never heard of the 5 D’s before.” Mabel, drawing from her background, emphasizes the importance of these terms in simplifying intervention in public spaces.
One personal experience fuels Mabel’s commitment to combating sexual intimidation. As a music journalist attending a concert alone, she found herself targeted, with bystanders visibly concerned but reluctant to intervene. “I barely remember the man, whether he was tall or small, or how he smelled, but I remember the faces of the people who looked at me and didn’t help,” she recounts, underscoring the impact of bystander inaction.
Discussing common barriers to intervention, Mabel highlights fears of personal harassment, uncertainty about the situation, and a reluctance to act if others remain passive. “These are all legitimate fears and reasons,” she acknowledges, pointing to the 5 D’s as tools to overcome these barriers and encourage bystander intervention.
To create a supportive culture for bystander intervention, Mabel emphasizes a three-step approach: raising awareness, creating tools, and fostering a social safety net. “It will probably never be an issue that can be solved entirely,” she notes, but collective care can minimize the impact of intimidation.
Recognizing the emotional toll of intervening, Mabel advises, “Always take your own safety into account first.” She suggests using the 5 D’s to intervene at a distance or delegate to someone more suitable. “This is where the D of delegate can come into the picture, for example,” she says, offering practical advice for bystanders navigating potentially harmful situations.