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UK: Harassment and Technology – Legislation Is Not Growing Fast Enough

correspondents, News stories, public harassment | on August, 19, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Emma Rachel Deane, UK, SSH Blog Correspondent

PAY-Gemma-NewittLast month 20-year-old Gemma Newitt was left enraged after no charges could be brought against a man who took inappropriate photos of her in a supermarket. CCTV footage from a Co-op store in St Austell, Cornwall shows Karl Leggatt holding his mobile phone inches away from Newitt’s bottom as she browsed the shelves of the store. After the incident was reported to the Store Manager the police were called and Newitt was told that no arrests could be made because Leggatt had not broken any laws.

After celebrities including Katy Perry, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan fell victim to an invasive lens, the “upskirt photo” became an all too familiar phrase. Although generally used to refer to an unauthorised photograph under a woman’s skirt, the term is also used in relation to more general voyeuristic photography depicting, almost exclusively, women. Despite the relatively recent phrasing, the interest in creating such images is not a recent occurrence and references in art can be found as early as the 1700s as well as a plethora of pictures created during the pin-up era. The difference between then and now, of course, is the development of technology. Smartphones now make it possible for non-consensual images to be uploaded to the internet and viewed by millions within minutes. There are entire websites dedicated to photographs of women sitting on benches, relaxing in parks and stepping out of cars completely unaware that they are being intimately photographed and posted on an erotica site.

Screenshot 2015-08-16 at 22Last year, despite complaints, crowdfunding site Indiegogo continued raising funds for a smartphone accessory, pitching itself on the ability to take stealthy photos of a woman’s body without her knowledge. The text on the webpage advertised the accessory’s ability to “take pictures round corners” while images used in the marketing focused on discreetly photographed breasts and legs.

Australia, New Zealand and India are countries that have specific legislation in place to tackle the issue based on a reasonable expectation of privacy but the UK is yet to follow suit. The Sexual Offences Act of 2003 criminalises ‘voyeurism’ in the UK and defines it as recording someone engaging in a private act or installing surveillance equipment in private areas without the knowledge or consent of the victim. This means that because Newitt was shopping in a public place, her body was considered available for public recording. Few countries have tackled the issue head on and created specific legislation for the protection of a woman’s privacy in this modern world of ever developing technology.

The attitude that women’s bodies are publicly owned is ingrained deeply in our society. We see this exhibited in a myriad of ways which each boil down to denying women agency over their own bodies. Restriction to abortion access, slut-shaming, sexual assault and the endless barrage of judgmental appearance based media representation are all displays of entitlement to the female form which promulgate a culture in which Leggatt could think of his actions as reasonable behaviour and stand vindicated by the law.

Emma Rachel Deane is a London-based retail manager for a fast growing women’s lifestyle brand and an outspoken advocate for women’s social justice issues. She can be found blogging on Raging Hag or tweeting @emmaracheldeane.

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“I just want to go outside and feel safe for once”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 19, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

I’m a 17 year-old African-American girl, and I’ve never felt safe when in public on my own. Whether I’m on my way to work or headed downtown to hang out with friends, men feel the need to make remarks on how I look.

And it’s always older men. Men much older than me who make remarks on my appearance and call me beautiful and make me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.

I used to think that maybe it ways the way I was dressing or how I did my hair that attracted all this unwanted attention. One day during summer, I was on my way to the public library to get some homework done. I stepped out of my house with my hair in a low pony-tail and a casual outfit, (leggings, oversized t-shirt, sneakers). Right away three men across the street had their eyes on me and watched me cross the street. One block away, an older man spotted me and said, ʺHey beautiful, how you doingʺ and on that same block another older man fixing his car looked me up and down and said, ʺHey how’s it going.ʺ As I entered the library another man yelled at me but I walked away quickly.

A few hours later, I started to head home. Crossing the street one man looked at me and told me I was a ʺblessed young ladyʺ and a construction worker got in my way just to say hello.

This is why I feel so unsafe when I go out alone. I always feel like people are watching me and I hate it. I just want to go outside and feel safe for once.

It’s not fair that at such a young age I’m scared to go out and enjoy a nice day because I’m worried about my well-being. But the sad reality is that I’m probably never going to feel safe when I’m out alone.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

Security guards? They always make me feel safer

- Anonymous

Location: San Francisco, CA

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

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“There is just not ONE day that goes by without being harassed by men”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 18, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

It happens every day, between 5 to 20 times a day. On my very short way to the bakery I may be catcalled 6 times. Sometimes a man brushes past me, coming from behind, whispering things in my ear. I feel scared and angry, and anger is keeping me awake at night. I dream I fight and break every bone in his face.

One day I was walking down the street and a man from a car called me. I ignored him because I’ve tried everything and in the end I always get called names. He slowed down and started following me in his car. Another time I was walking and a group of men was coming from the opposite direction. It was too late (and not easy) to change pavements so I continued, trying not to walk too fast or too slow, eyes down. They circled me and walked with me for a hundred meters. I told them, ʺYou won, I’m scared, now can you leave me alone?ʺ they continued a little then left. Anger is piling up inside me.

Now a simple catcall fuels me up for the day and it takes longer and longer to calm down. It happens everywhere, whether in posh areas or in poorer neighborhoods. It happens whether they’re on the phone or with their kids in their arms. It happens whether they’re barely fourteen or in their fifties. I’ve learned to spot groups of men, change my itinerary, avoid certain places at certain times, walk with my hands free ʺjust in caseʺ.

I dream of telescopic sticks and pepper sprays and knives.

One day I was having a burger in my car, parked right in front of the restaurant. Two men parked next to me and started knocking on my window, asking me to lower it down. I didn’t move, they started hitting harder and harder.

There is just not ONE day that goes by without being harassed by men out there.

People ask me why I don’t get accompanied by a guy? Right, because obviously women are not allowed to be outside anymore?! One day (in broad daylight, please stop thinking this is about going out late and ʺtaking risksʺ (?!)) a man on a bicycle climbed on the pavement, stopped right in front of me, told the male friend with me to ʺf**k offʺ. Which he did. Nothing else happened but I was so scared, and I felt so powerless.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

There should be a public statement made by the politics. Not once did they take the initiative to say ʺBelgium is a free country where both men and women have the same rights. If you can’t respect this principle, those values, measures will be taken.ʺ I’m afraid I’d also add: more cameras…

– Anonymous

Location: Brussels, Belgium

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

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New Stop Global Street Harassment Book!

Resources, street harassment | on August, 17, 2015 | by | 0 Comments
Street_Harassment

Stop Global Street Harassment: Growing Activism Around the World book cover

I’m so excited to announce that I have a new book coming out on August 30, 2015!!

Out of the heightened media attention to the issue of street harassment last fall following the “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” video, I signed a contract for a second book with Praeger Publishers, the author of my 2010 book Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women.

When that book was released exactly five years ago, it was one of the only books available on the topic and entities like the NYC City Council and United Nations immediately used it to inform new efforts to address the problem. Five years later, the landscape has changed a lot (for the better) when it comes to how people understand the issue, how it is covered in the media, and what is being done about it.

My new book looks at the time period of 2010 – February 2015 and highlights what individuals, grassroots organizations, international entities, and governments are doing to address street harassment. The final chapter suggests what else needs to be done. Around 75 activists are quoted, featured, or have essays in the book and it covers the issue on six continents and numerous countries. I am grateful to everyone who was involved.

GET THE BOOK:

Pre-order it now on Amazon.com. You also can request a copy or copies of the book for your local bookstore or library or personal use from Praeger directly. If you are a journalist who would like a review copy, please contact me, hollykearl AT yahoo DOT com.

JOIN THE TWITTER CHAT:

On September 1st at 11 a.m. EDT/3 p.m. GMT, activists from around the world who are featured in the book will be tweeting about street harassment in their area and what they are doing to stop it. Anyone can join it – please do! Use the hashtag #GlobalSHActivism. I will be leading it from @HKearl.

Sept12015TwitterGlobalSHActivism

BOOK EVENTS:

Stop Global Street Harassment event in Washington, DC on September 17, 2015

Image created by Noorjahan Akbar

September 17, Washington, DC book launch event. It will be at American University, doors open at 6:30 p.m. event begins at 7 p.m.. I will be joined by activists from Afghanistan, Egypt and the USA and local anti-street harassment groups will have resources and be available to answer questions. The event is free and open to the public. Facebook RSVP page.

September 30, I will be a speaker at George Mason University’s Fall for the Books event in Fairfax, VA, 1:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

October 1 or 2: Tentatively I will have a book event in London with local anti-street harassment groups. But we are still looking for a venue — any suggestions? Please contact me! hollykearl AT yahoo DOT com

October 5 or 6: Tentatively I will have a book event in Dortmund, Germany, with ProChange. But we are still looking for a venue — any suggestions? Please contact me! hollykearl AT yahoo DOT com

November 5, New York City book launch event. It will be at the famous feminist bookstore Bluestockings at 7 p.m. I will be joined by activists from the Netherlands, Nigeria, and NYC. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact me if you are interested in hosting me for a book event! Here is information about campus talks.

BOOK REVIEWS:

“In Holly Kearl’s new book, she powerfully and compellingly analyses the scale and breadth of the problem of street harassment and presents the reader with an uplifting snapshot of the activism being undertaken to tackle it. This is a hugely important global exploration of a seismic shift in our attitudes and responses to a universal experience. For some readers, the scale of the problem as Kearl describes it will be shocking. For others, it will be horribly familiar. But the campaigns and strategies she outlines for taking back the streets will fill every reader with hope, energy, and a powerful urge to be part of the solution. This is an important book and a compelling call to arms.”

—Laura Bates, Founder of The Everyday Sexism Project

“This book represents a major breakthrough in exposing the pernicious, prevalent, but long-ignored form of oppression that is a barrier to freedom and full equality for women around the world. It offers comprehensive analysis and research, is clearly written, and presents useful tools and information for those seeking change. It addresses misogyny and the related issues of race, culture, and gender identity with great insight and originality.

In the mid-1970s when my colleagues and I were defining and organizing around the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, the problem of street harassment seemed too complicated and daunting for us to tackle. I am grateful to Holly and a new generation of women activists and researchers who have taken the fight to a new level to raise public awareness and change public policy and ingrained prejudice and behavior.”

—Susan Meyer, Former executive director of Working Women United Institute

“As Holly Kearl documents, street harassment is not a new problem. What is new is the strength of community activism and government support to end street harassment. This book updates us on the current fight against street harassment and the progress that has been made in the last five years. Understanding the role street harassment plays in perpetuating gender inequality and patriarchal power is crucial to improving women’s lives across the globe.”

—Kimberly Fairchild, Associate Professor of Psychology, Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY

Stop Global Street Harassment is a sensitive and harrowing examination of the frequency, severity, and implications of a global pandemic disproportionately impacting girls and women: street harassment. Holly Kearl, activist and founding leader in the Stop Street Harassment movement, interweaves a powerful narrative combining global perspectives from social science research, personal narrative, and journalistic/social media accounts, resulting in an intersectional pièce de résistance. Kearl’s work is the most comprehensive work on the issue of global street harassment to date.

A compelling read and a brave indictment of hegemonic privilege, Stop Global Street Harassment represents a living account possessing the power to ignite a global audience by underscoring the experiences of untold activists, researchers, students, and parents throughout the world. This crucial work culminates with practical solutions and policy prescriptions that will not only inform NGOs and governmental entities, but also serve to inspire those individuals who live with street harassment on a daily basis, most of whom possess non-dominant identity statuses. This work is a call to action. Readers will be inspired not only to listen for the untold voices that have yet to be heard, telling their tales of the daily harassment they face in simply navigating public spaces, but also to work for change within their own communities. Stop Global Street Harassment is a must read.”

—Dr. Jennifer L. Martin, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Mount Union

“What an excellent resource Kearl’s book is for activists and scholars! Stop Global Street Harassment: Growing Activism Around the World should be read by feminist leaders far and wide; it would be a great reading selection for those teaching courses that address global issues, social problems, social movements, and gender issues. Holly Kearl has written an easy-to-read, engaging book about street harassment and the movement she helped develop to document and end it.”

—Laura S. Logan, Assistant Professor, Hastings College

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“I felt violated and I ran into my house”

Stories, street harassment | on August, 17, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Today I was walking home from my future apartment at 4 p.m. It’s about a 25 minute walk and I was walking at a leisurely Sunday pace with no place to be. I noticed a car turn around and park in an odd spot near the beginning of my walk, took note of it, but I wasn’t feeling unsafe. I cut through the local park where some people were playing softball and kids were on the playground.

I turned on to my street and had about a 1/2 mile walk to go. I was texting my friend and noticed that there was a car parked on the side of the street, again I didn’t think anything of it but it looked similar to the one from the start of my walk. As I was walking past the car the man said something and I turned and looked to see his penis out and masturbating. I quickly averted my eyes and sped up but did not want him to know where I lived and thought it was too risky to turn around and snap a photo of the car.

I heard the car blast by me and up the street fast enough so that I could not take a photo or read the plate numbers. I immediately started crying and running towards my house. I felt violated and I ran into my house an took off my dress, put on gym shorts and a t-shirt and called my sister. For some reason I felt like I needed to take those clothes off to try and wipe my mind clean of the ordeal.

She told me to call the non-emergency line, which I did to report but I didn’t have much information. I hope that if he continues to do this someone will be quicker and take a photo so that this man can be stopped.

Optional: What’s one way you think we can make public places safer for everyone?

A tip line that people could text reporting street harassment, or a twitter/facebook feed that would alert people within an area of people that are harassing others so that we can be aware or even prepared.

– LB

Location: Brighton, MA

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

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Meet our 2015 Safe Public Spaces Mentoring Program Teams

SSH programs, street harassment | on August, 16, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Meet our 2015 Safe Public Spaces Mentoring Program mentees! They come from four countries, three continents.

Through the end of 2015, we will hold weekly check-ins, offer advice, materials and a small monetary stipend for the projects they proposed. Each team will write at least two blog posts about their projects (mid-way and at the conclusion) so you all will have a chance to hear from them directly.

These are the mentees and their projects!

1. Stop Harcèlement de Rue – Lyon will host an exhibition of drawings against street harassment in a number of locations in Lyon, France, including a high school, city square, and bar. Members of the group will be on hand at various times to discuss street harassment with passersby.

2. In India, the Safe Safar: Safe Streets project will entail gender-sensitization and anti-harassment trainings with auto rickshaw drivers in Uttar Pradesh. The team will also hold monthly awareness campaigns with street plays, signature campaigns, and public dialogue around the issue.

3. FILIA Centre will hold a three workshop series about street harassment at a high school in Bucharest, Romania. The students will have the opportunity to create art, videos, or write an essay on the topic during the process.

4. A high school student-led group Me=You: Sexual Harassment Awareness will engage in a number of actions in Florida, USA, around street harassment, including writing letters to the school board, writing articles for the school newspaper, and holding anti-harassment events for the local libraries’ monthly teen programming.

We are excited about the big impact we know they will each have in their communities.

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NYC Street Harassment Play on Sept. 2, 2015

Events, street harassment | on August, 13, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Shaun, via Flux Theatre’s website

Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy is a theatre artist in New York City who is producing an event focused on street harassment in collaboration with Flux Theatre Ensemble. The event is called #SpeakUp: The Street Harassment Plays and it features five monologues written by playwrights who have been asked to reflect on their feelings as victims of street harassment.

Where: Judson Memorial Church’s Assembly Hall, 239 Thompson St, NYC

When: September 2, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

You can read more about the event here. (The following is an excerpt of that article.)

“Earlier this spring, a man walked up to me on a subway platform, complimented me rather aggressively, and then punched me repeatedly when I didn’t respond favorably. It happened during a rather hectic period in my life so I didn’t have time to dwell much on it. I did, however, have a strong impulse to write my thoughts about the incident down. I shared those thoughts on social media, because that’s what you do these days, and followed it up with a blog post. Doing so was cathartic, not only because I’d purged my thoughts on what happened, but I’d reclaimed my voice, the voice and agency that this unknown man had attempted to silence.

Over the next few months I was both heartbroken and inspired by two separate incidents. First, a friend e-mailed me to tell me that she had just been similarly attacked and was re-reading what I’d written as she processed her own feelings. Not long after that, a different man attacked another woman (whom I didn’t know) on a subway platform after she rejected his advances. I was becoming enraged.

The second thing that occurred was that I had the privilege of witnessing New Black Fest’s HandsUp: 6 Playwrights⎪6 Testaments , which featured six powerful and evocative monologues written by emerging black male playwrights that reflect on being an American black male in a culture of racial profiling (I believe they have plans to remount this, so if you get the chance to see it I highly recommend it. You can read excerpts here. ) HandsUp gave a personal voice to a national ache and I was reeling from what I’d heard/seen.

After my friend’s e-mail I knew that I wanted to do something. Being a thespian, the theatre was the battleground I chose and with HandsUp fresh in my mind I had an urge to create something similar to New Black Fest’s stunning piece: a handful of plays that reflect on the playwright’s feelings of being the targets of street harassment and catcalling.  Almost instinctively, I contacted Gus Schulenburg from Flux Theatre Ensemble and said, “Gus, this just happened. Let’s make some theatre.” Gus shared the vision with the rest of the team and they, being all Fluxy and fabulous, said, “Yes, let’s.” Together we have created #SpeakUp: The Street Harassment Plays. I hope you’ll join us.”

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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.