Today I had the honor of testifying with 17 other women and men at a city council hearing about the problem of street harassment in New York City. Those who testified included representatives of groups like HollaBack, Girls for Gender Equity, RightRides, NYC-NOW, and Center for Anti-Violence Education, journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry, the amazing 14-year-old performer/singer The Astronomical Kid, and many community members (including my mother). Every single testimony was powerful, heartfelt, and important.
Each person had about 5 minutes to speak, and I was asked to talk about the global problem and offer policy suggestions. I’m working to collect the testimonies of everyone who spoke to post here so people who couldn’t attend can read them. The official testimonies won’t be available for weeks. To start, here is my testimony and here is the testimony of high school student Grace.
[Update: View or read 10 testimonies from the hearing on my Stop Street Harassment website page for the hearing]
I was able to record all or part of several testimonies and I uploaded them to the Stop Street Harassment YouTube Channel:
This is historic because it is the first time a major U.S. city has held a hearing on this topic and NYC is one of the largest and most influential cities in the world!!
Julissa Ferreras chaired the meeting and she truly understood and heard us on this issue, as did the other council members. I am grateful to her for organizing the hearing. By the end, she said they would like to pursue the first city-wide study of street harassment and launch an awareness campaign. This is huge. This is social change.
Many members of the press were in attendance, including someone from the AP. AP journalist Sara Kugler Frazier wrote an article and already the following media outlets have picked up the story: Washington Post, MSNBC, Boston Globe, NY Post, Salon, Yahoo, Huffington Post, Canadian Press, AJC, USA News, and Kansas City Star. The NY Metro, AM New York, the NYC CBS News, TampaBay.com, Fox News, and Gothamist also wrote stories. I spoke with a blogger for Ms. so I know it will be covered there, too.
This is amazing coverage for this important issue. I hope every city takes notice and considers holding their own street harassment hearing and working on community solutions for making their city safer and more welcoming for women!