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“You’re gonna make me cum!”

street harassment | on February, 28, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

On my way to work, I heard a man yelling “uhh!! Uhhh!! You’re gonna make me cum!!” and looked up to see a man violently masturbating at me with his pants down around his knees. I called 911 to report this, and waited 45 minutes before anyone showed up to take down any information. It was 9 a.m. in broad daylight on a Thursday.

- Alice

Location: Brooklyn, NY

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See the book 50 Stories about Stopping Street Harassers for more idea

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“I’m just trying to go home with you”

Stories, street harassment | on February, 27, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

On Friday, February 20th, a man started verbally harassing me in the Prospect Park Q train station, asking if he could get inside my coat with me. I abruptly walked down to the platform to be around more people. When the train arrived, I got on and noticed he’d sat down across from me. Three stations later, I got off at my stop and he got up and did the same. Hoping to leave with the crowd, I left the train station and walked across the street and down one block.

I looked behind me and saw he was following me from across the street. I walked back towards the train station to ask the attendant to call the police. The man cut me off at the corner and I yelled, “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?!” He responded “Nothing I’m just trying to go home with you.” I threatened to call the cops if he kept following me, and he backed away and walked down the block.

An older woman saw what happened and was nice enough to accompany me home. When I called the precinct to file a report, the attendant told me that nothing had actually happened, then proceeded to hang up on me, laughing. It was 2 a.m. I called 311 to see if there were any resources, and was given the same treatment by two different people after being put on hold for 10 minutes.

- Alice

Location: Brooklyn, NY

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See the book 50 Stories about Stopping Street Harassers for more idea

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UN Please Include Street Harassment in Beijing + 20

street harassment | on February, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

We’ve joined the following organizations in asking the United Nations and all member states to make a commitment to eradicating street harassment in Beijing + 20: Chega de Fiu-Fiu, iHollaback Bahamas, iHollaback Bogotá, Observatorio Contra el Acoso Callejero Chile, Observatorio Contra el Acoso Callejero Colombia, Observatorio Contra el Acoso Callejero Nicaragua, Observatorio Contra el Acoso Callejero Uruguay, Paremos el Acoso Callejero.

You can sign the petition and add your name to the request.

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Australia: Mental Health and Street Harassment

correspondents, street harassment | on February, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Tara Willoughby, Canberra, Australia, SSH Blog Correspondent

Like street harassment, mental illness is a subject that does not get enough serious discussion. In 2007, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimated that almost half of all Australians would experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 Australians will experience mental illness in any 12 month period. And yet there’s still a huge level of stigma around talking about mental illness in our community – three quarters of Australians with mental illnesses reported experiencing stigma.

Also like street harassment, mental illness often has disproportionately difficult effects on more marginalised members of our community like LGBTIQ people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, among others. As a queer woman who has struggled with mental illness, I am quite familiar with some of the ways that street harassment fits into the larger puzzle of prejudice, violence and mental ill-health in our communities.

There are two areas of intersection between street harassment and mental health that I’d like to talk about here: the effects that street harassment can have on people dealing with mental illness, and the possibility that street harassment could contribute to people developing mental health problems in the first place (spoiler alert: it does).

Effects of Street Harassment on People with Mental Illness

We often talk about the way that street harassment makes public spaces unsafe and unwelcoming, especially for women. The way that harassment impacts on mental illness is a key way that this takes place.

In Australia, women experience higher rates of mental illness in a given 12 month period, and in particular they experience much higher rates of anxiety disorders. Street harassment can play into the narratives and fears that run around in our heads. It can keep us cooped up on our houses, debating whether to go out and do the things that would otherwise be good for us (exercising, seeing friends and maintaining social connections, being in nature) and risk having our whole day or week crushed by a stranger, or stay inside where at least we know the people who demand we smile.

Street Harassment as a Cause of Mental Illness?

Street harassment is part of the larger spectrum of violence that’s present in our society. It sits in the same group as other more acknowledged violence against women, with homophobic and transphobic violence, with racist violence. We know that violence against women is more damaging to the health of Victorian (Australian) women aged 15–44 years than any other well-known risk factors. And when we look at that health damage, the majority of it manifests as mental ill-health.

Many people have written about the impacts that street harassment has on them, and the way that it has affected their own mental health, through to the development of PTSD symptoms or other negative mental health outcomes.

The Moral Responsibility to Consider Mental Illness

The world over, it is not surprising for a street harasser to change in a second from giving so-called ‘compliments’ to declaring their targeted woman a ‘crazy b*tch’. People who look to deny our experiences also occasionally find it convenient to question our mental health – to suggest that ‘only a crazy person would find a simple hello to be harassment.’

My response to all of these suggestions and allegations and shouts is: so what?

So what if your behaviour would only hurt someone who is experiencing mental illness? So what if I’m crazy? I’m also hurt. There are a whole bunch of people in Australia who are dealing with mental illness at any one time. And it is entirely well publicised that street harassment behaviours hurt people with mental illness. So if you choose to engage in street harassment, you choose to risk exposing someone with mental illness to increased harm.

I find this discussion reminiscent of the massive arguments that are periodically had online about trigger warnings. People often say that we just don’t know what may trigger someone – should we give trigger warnings for the sound of rustling papers and the smell of peanut butter? But on the other side of the coin, there are a whole bunch of things that we write about that we know can often negatively affect people. And we know that, because the people who are affected keep telling us.

We need to listen to the voices of the people who are hurt by street harassment on a daily basis. If we don’t listen, then the hurt is on us.

Tara works with AWAVA (the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance) indulging her love of social media. You can find her on Twitter as @angelbird72 or @Tash_Because or being silly as one half of the ‘slice-of-life’ podcast Heaps Funny But.

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#MySafetySelfie Project

Activist Interviews, Resources, street harassment | on February, 25, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Conceived by site-specific narratologist and writer Jay Pitter, #mysafetyselfie is a project that is curating selfies + stories from women highlighting spatial and social factors compromising their safety in public spaces. After establishing a career as a public funder and then a corporate marketing communications director, Pitter earned a graduate degree at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Her experiences of compromised safety as a young person coupled with her passion for inclusive city building led her to focus her research on environmental design, crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), and urban placemaking. Pitter is excited about the ways that #mysafetyselfies, can be used to create a space for women to participate in conversations pertaining to urban design, architecture, and public space policy. Also, she is adamant about presenting the stories of women in a high-quality, responsible and dignified manner. The goals of this project goes beyond the collection of selfies; Jay plans on creating an online platform, community engagement series, published work, exhibitions, and curricula.

Find out how YOU can participate. 

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Kenya: Outreach around Street Harassment

SSH programs, street harassment | on February, 25, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

SPS Kennya’s outreach event

Last week, SSH’s 2014 Safe Public Spaces Mentoring team in Kenya was finally able to hold their event. Originally, they planned to hold an awareness campaign on their ferry in December, a site of much harassment, but it has been too unsafe to do so in their region due to terrorism. Other challenges included their banners were stolen, and the replacement venue was in a less populated area so their turnout was lower than anticipated.

But, they persevered and were able to set up a tent in Mombasa. They had peer educators and youth outreach workers who spoke with 475 community members about street harassment across two days. They had a loudspeaker that attracted people to them, women were fully in support of the campaign and some men said “they will from now on respect women and protect them from harassment.”

Organizer Mr. Cosmus W. Maina, Project-Co-ordinator-TEEN WATCH CENTRE, said that going forward they hope to train community outreach workers about street harassment, hold a sensitization forum for community stakeholders and police officers, and hold community road shows.

 

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Making Street Harassment Connections in South Africa

street harassment | on February, 25, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Hello from South Africa! I am here for my new job with the Aspen Institute’s New Voices fellowship. One of our current year fellows is Elsa D’Silva, an amazing anti-street harassment activist in India who co-founded Safe City two years ago.

One of last year’s fellows is writer Sisonke Msimang who wrote a very powerful New York Times oped last month on street harassment and backlash against African women advancing. She was briefly in town today and I got to meet with her, too.

Meeting role models, allies, compatriots in efforts to stop street harassment always makes me so happy :)

 

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SSH will not publish any comment that is offensive or hateful and does not add to a thoughtful discussion of street harassment. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, disabalism, classism, and sexism will not be tolerated. Disclaimer: SSH may use any stories submitted to the blog in future scholarly publications on street harassment.