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Kenyan program improves boys’ attitudes towards girls

male perspective, News stories, Resources | on March, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

We need this kind of programming in every country, every school!

Via Reuters:

“The schoolboy watched as a man tried to remove the nappy of a little girl he was dragging along a Nairobi riverbank, suspecting that he was going to rape her. Having been trained to defend girls against sexual assault, the boy called other young men to help him confront the man and rescue the child.

“It would have been fatal,” said Collins Omondi, who taught the boy as part of a program to stamp out violence against women and girls in Nairobi slums. “If this man would have assaulted this kid, he would have thrown her inside the river.”

Omondi teaches a program called ‘Your Moment of Truth’, run by the charity Ujamaa Africa which encourages adolescent boys to stand up against violence toward women.

The training is “highly effective” in improving attitudes toward women and increasing the likelihood of successful intervention, researchers from Stanford University, University of Nairobi and United States International University-Africa said. The training increased boys’ successful interventions when witnessing physical or sexual assault by 185 percent, from 26 to 74 percent, according to their study to be published later this year in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.Interventions in verbal harassment also increased, and rape by boyfriends and friends of girls in schools where ‘Your Moment of Truth’ was taught dropped by 20 percent, from 61 to 49 percent, the researchers said.”

H/t Soraya Chemaly

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Iowa City Addresses Street Harassment

Events, SSH programs | on March, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Compared to most cities, people in Iowa City are doing a lot to address street harassment. Since 2006 there have been anti-harassment bus PSAs . The University of Iowa’s Women’s Resource Action Center (WRAC) has held events and awareness-raising demonstrations about street harassment and their staff are currently working with bars on how to address harassment in their venues. And last fall Stella Hart formed the Ending Street Harassment in Iowa City group which has held a public forum/discussion and conducted a bystander training. It also has an online discussion space.

Stella’s group and WRAC hosted me at WRAC’s building last evening for a lecture and informal Q&A about street harassment. For anyone who doubts that harassment is a problem in smaller towns or the Midwest, it is. They had stories to tell, just as people do in communities all over the world. Many fraternity men are offenders. Several people shared how they had tried to talk to the police about specific incidents and had gotten no where. I brought copies of the Iowa section of our Know Your Rights toolkit so they can use it to show police which laws DO address street harassment…but by the end of the night they were ready to plan action without the police.

Today they began putting their plan in place by creating a communications chain so that if anyone sees a harasser at the same spot (e.g. not passing by in a car but hanging out on a street corner or fraternity house front porch), they can rally people together to come out and tell the harasser to stop. Collective action. They also talked about doing sidewalk chalking on football game days because that is when street harassment is particularly bad…they  shared how they feel too unsafe to hold a march, rally or distribute materials on those days given that the harassers are mostly drunk and adrenalized.But they decided to try out chalking next fall and see how that goes. They also discussed asking the incoming new university president to sign a contact promising to address street harassment.

We ended the night by each making signs that either had something we could envision ourselves saying to harassers or general pro-respect messages.

Way to go Ending Street Harassment group and WRAC for addressing this important issue.

“Practice the golden rule. Stop street harassment!”

“Don’t be an ass. Don’t street harass!”

“I am not yours to claim. Stop Street Harassment”

“Don’t harass me!”

“I don’t go outside for you to look or comment on! I have places to go and people to meet!”

“Yeah, Don’t.”

“Did I ask you to do that?”

“And if I want to take a walk alone at night you will not make me feel unsafe.”

 

 

“Not today. Respect my space and don’t harass me!”

“Respect Our Community Humanity. Stop Street Harassment”

“Don’t harass me! It’s not okay”

“Respect yourself by giving me some respect.”

“RUDE!”

“Don’t harass me”

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Update on Detained Chinese Activists

News stories, street harassment | on March, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

As I’ve shared here before, on March 6 and 7, public security officials detained five feminist activists in China who planned to distribute stickers and leaflets on March 8, International Women’s Day, to raise awareness about the problem of sexual harassment on public transportation (something SSH does and advocates others do in their communities). Nearly 3 weeks later, they are still being detained.

The New York Times reported yesterday that “Lawyers for the detainees, who were held on suspicion of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble,’ say their clients are being maltreated in jail. The police took away the eyeglasses of Ms. Wei and Ms. Zheng. Ms. Wang was hospitalized with heart problems after interrogations continuing far into the night. Ms. Wu has been denied medication for her hepatitis.” (More on their health conditions.) The article also talks about how people speaking out against their detention within China are facing backlash.

On Monday I joined Allie of SlutWalk DC held a protest at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. Here are stories about it by Voice of America and RFA Cantonese

Protests have also been held outside the UN in New York and in New Delhi, Hong Kong, and Seoul, Korea. UN Ambassadors and EU representatives have called for their release. Unfortunately, yesterday the BBC reported that “China has rejected calls from several foreign governments to free five women’s rights activists who have spent nearly three weeks in detention.”

For the latest updates on the five women, follow the Free Chinese Feminists Facebook page.

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Peru Passes a law, one is introduced in Panama

News stories, street harassment | on March, 26, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

The Peruvian government officially passed the law against street harassment that the Congress approved earlier this month.

Meanwhile in Panama, Ana Matilde Gómez, an independent member of Panama’s National Assembly introduced a bill that would criminalize street harassment. It would also outlaw bullying, stalking, racism and all forms of sexual harassment. It also calls for developing public policies aimed at preventing these problems.

 

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10 Ways Individuals Can Join #EndSHWeek

anti-street harassment week, street harassment | on March, 24, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

It can be hard to find your place in a movement when you’re not part of a bigger group or organization. At Stop Street Harassment, however, we value the participation of everyone, whether you’re a giant international nonprofit or just one person in a small town. And International Anti-Street Harassment Week is the perfect time to start getting involved. Here are some things you can do as an individual:

1)    Learn more – It’s cliché, but true: change starts with you. Are you curious about street harassment, but don’t really understand why it’s a big deal? Do you know your friends would ask questions if you started talking about it? Take a little time to look through our resources and toolkits, and you’ll be prepared to start a conversation wherever you go!

2)    Talk about it – This is probably the simplest thing you can do, but always important. Post your thoughts and opinions to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtags #EndSHWeek or #streetharassment. We want to hear from you! Don’t forget to change your profile picture or cover photo with one of our great graphics.  You can also participate in one of our many tweetchats and Google hang-outs scheduled throughout the week!

3)    Cover your neighborhood – Help yourself to our extensive collection of graphics and posters, in various languages. Print them out, hang them in coffee shops, libraries, telephone poles, or hand them out. Girls Speak has also developed an awesome series of posters and infographics meant for posting in public spaces – post and then share them with @GrlsSpeak and @NoStHarassWeek. Another easy way to get involved is to arm yourself with sidewalk chalk and cover the streets in positive or anti-harassment messages.

4)    Write it out – We know you have something important to say. Our movement is dedicated to sharing a wide variety of voices and perspectives – and that includes you! If you’re interested in writing a guest post, send it over to submit it here for consideration. Are you serious about getting your op-ed published in a paper? The first three submitted will receive complimentary editing and advice from our founder Holly Kearl. Also consider writing a letter to the editor at your local newspaper, independent or college publications, posting on your blog or social media and more. Join our virtual Write-In to receive daily writing prompts and tips on getting published!

5)    Join International Wheat Pasting Night – By now, many of us have seen and fallen in love with artist Tatyana Falalizadeh’s compelling Stop Telling Women to Smile images. On April 17th, she will be making these posters available to anyone who wants to participate by hanging them in their own towns! Stay tuned for more details on this.

6)    Join a local organization – Did you know that over 100 organizations in 30 countries are partnering up with us this year? Peruse our list and find someone in your area! Shoot them an email and consider showing up to an event or meeting. Are you a student? Reach out to a like-minded student club (feminist, womanist, LGBTQI+, social justice, etc.) and ask them if they’re involved with Anti-Street Harassment Week. If they’re not, give them some pointers on what they can do! Need help finding a group near you? Email bpurdy@stopstreetharassment.org and we’ll help you out.

7)    Create art – We think art is one of the most powerful tools in creating social change. Whether you’re painting a mural in the middle of town or sketching something out in your bedroom, we would love it if you shared with us so we can help you inspire others!

8)    Start your own organization – You’ll be surprised how many people are just looking for someone to start something. Start a campus club, meet with people at a downtown coffee shop, join together other people in your profession – whatever works for you. You know your town best – you’re the best person to make a change! Be sure to refer #2 to find tools that will help you start up.

9)    Join us year-round! – We’re a volunteer-driven organization, meaning we’re always in need of enthusiastic volunteers. If April is an especially crazy month for you, check out this list of ways you can get involved with Stop Street Harassment!

10) Donate – This is last on our list for a reason. We aren’t in this to make money – Anti-Street Harassment Week is about action, not dollar bills. However, we know that this is how some people prefer to help out. Your donation will help fund much-needed things like our website update and Safe Public Spaces Mentoring Program.

 

Questions? Email bpurdy@stopstreetharassment.org!

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Chinese Embassy Protest in Washington, DC

SSH programs | on March, 23, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Stop Street Harassment and SlutWalk D.C. took a stand outside the Chinese Embassy today for the five Chinese women who are now on day 17 of their detention. They were detained simply for planning to distribute information about sexual harassment on the transit system….something that SSH advocates people do and do ourselves. NOT OKAY.

Have you signed the petition yet? http://tinyurl.com/md7rfmc ‪#‎FreetheFive

 

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Australia: Car Culture and Street Harassment

correspondents, street harassment | on March, 23, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Tara Willoughby, Canberra, Australia, SSH Blog Correspondent

Image via Clipsal website

For many Australians, cars are a huge part of their lives. Around the country, you’ll find ‘Ford families’ and ‘Holden families’.  And like many other pursuits in our society, being ‘into cars’ is a strongly gendered affair – cars are for men. Car culture is perhaps most visible during large public events centred around cars. It is also at these events that more insidious aspects of car culture can be seen, including street harassment. While there is debate about whether there are increased rates of harassment around these events, I will look at two events in particular: the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide and Summernats in Canberra.

The Clipsal 500

The Clipsal 500 is a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series and takes place over 4 days at the start of March in Adelaide. As well as the race itself, there are a large number of other ‘attractions’ during the event, and it forms part of Adelaide’s ‘Mad March’ celebrations.

In 2009 and 2014, YWCA Adelaide ran the ‘Women’s Safety Survey’ after hearing from young women members that they felt unsafe in the city while the race was in town.  Of the almost 400 respondents in 2014, 90% said they felt unsafe at the Clipsal, and 60% said they had experienced an incident around the race that made them feel unsafe.

It has however been questioned whether there truly is an issue of harassment at the Clipsal. Critics point to the lack of a spike in reports to police of harassment and assault during the event, the participants from other Mad March events being in the city at the same time, and the theory that increased numbers of people in the city would actually make it safer (although there is no evidence proposed to support this theory). It is also notable that much street harassment is not of the type people feel the need/ability to report to the police.

Summernats

Summernats is a car festival held over three and a half days in Canberra each year. Like with the Clipsal 500, many women feel unsafe during this event. A colleague of mine described her friend’s experience of being continuously harassed and yelled at to ‘take your top off’ – a shout that has been noted at the event for many years. This year alone many women used social media to complain of sexual harassment around the event.

Police regularly report low or no arrests and reports during Summernats. A further example of the shortfalls of police reports as a metric for measuring street harassment at Summernats comes from 2008, when a mob of 400 men aggressively surrounded and harassed a number of women over several hours and yet police were not involved. That year’s Summernats was described by Police as quieter than the year before. Another mobbing incident was alleged in 2011.

What can we do?

Even assuming that street harassment is no worse in and around car-specific events than in the rest of Australia, there is still an onus on organisers to make their events safe for women. Not only is it good for business, but preventing violence against women is everyone’s responsibility.

So what steps can be taken? To start with, we know that messages from society at large matter. Messages that are disrespectful towards women, messages that support inequality between men and women, messages that have strong distinctions between men’s role and women’s roles, all lead to the perpetration of violence and unhelpful responses from people who witness violence. This is a well-established fact [pdf – see especially page 18]. It’s high time that car event organisers think carefully about the messages they are sending to participants.

Activities solely devoted to appraising women’s appearance are present at both the Clipsal 500 (the bikini parade) and Summernats (the Miss Summernats Beauty Pageant). Likewise both events feature various promotional (female) models and ‘grid girls’. Meanwhile, in 2015, the vast majority of winners at Summernats and all drivers lined up at the Clipsal 500 were men. There’s so much that could be done to change this one-dimensional image of women as inactive sexualised objects and men as serious participants. Welcoming women into traditionally male-dominated arenas is a goal that has received a huge amount of support in Australia, including creation of fantastic research and practical tools. It is also important not to disregard the important place of ‘inactive’ elements like models. There is absolutely no reason why men should not also be welcomed into these areas. Indeed, they can add talent in this area just as women add talent as ‘active’ participants.

Most importantly, street harassment (and sexism and violence more broadly) is an issue that needs to be talked about inside car culture, not just by feminists and academics. These behaviours are simply unacceptable, and there is so much that can be done to change the social structures that allow them to happen. Even just starting the conversation makes a difference.

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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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.