Hooray! Anti-Street Harassment Successes of 2010

This was a big year for anti-street harassment activism! I spent a few hours this morning reflecting on it all and I am amazed. Thank you to the thousands of people who are tackling this issue around the world, including by sharing your stories. You are making a difference.

In this (lengthy) post, I’m highlighting some of the heroes who stood up to harassers, a few of the substantial societal shift successes, several new anti-harassment campaigns, various creative initiatives to raise awareness about street harassment, and more.

And I want to note that it was a big year for me personally: I passed the two-year mark for my blog in May, my book Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women came out in August, numerous articles I wrote were published (including on the Huffington Post, Forbes.com, and Guardian), and over the last few months I’ve been able to give talks across the country. I look forward to finding out what 2011 will bring.

Women Who Fought Back!

There were so many amazing stories this year about women who would not stay silence and spoke out against their harassers! Here are just a few of them.

  • Lisa Robinson stopped a train in Wales by stepping into the tracks when the conductor wouldn’t deal with harassers on board
  • Nicola Briggs shouted down her subway harasser in New York City and got him arrested and now is giving tips to other women on how to deal with their harassers
  • Annie Jiang took a cell phone photo of a man who masturbated against her on the subway on her way to school. The next day, because of her photo, police were able to arrest him.
  • Jen Corey, Miss DC 2009, stood up to harassers at a bar in Georgetown and, when the story made the local news, she used the media attention to speak out against street harassment.

And these are a sampling of the stories women submitted to my blog about standing up to their harassers:

Men Who Did Something:

I received a few stories this year from male bystanders who took action to interrupt or stop a harassment incident. Good for them!

Big Successes:

This was a really big year for concrete outcomes in the quest to make street harassment socially unacceptable, with action occuring in the UK, Egypt, Mauritius, USA, and internationally via the United Nations.

  • In February, UNIFEM released a 200+ page booklet on how to create safe cities for women, which in part addressed the problem of street harassment. In November, they launched the Safe Cities Programme in five cities around the world!
  • Also in February, an anti-sexual harassment law (that would include public spaces) was presented to the legislative affairs committee of the Egyptian Parliament.
  • In September, Oona King & Ken Livingstone, two candidates for mayor in London, put street harassment on their platform! This was thanks to the work of the UK Anti-Street Harassment Campaign!
  • In September, Independence, Missouri, passed a new ordinance making it illegal for people to harass pedestrians and cyclists from their vehicles!
  • Also in September, the Mauritian Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare Minister, Ms. Sheilabai Bappoo, released a booklet titled “Breaking the Silence on Sexual Harassment in Public Transport,” to encourage women to speak out and for people to help women who are most vulnerable to this violence (such as young or poor women who must take public transportation).
  • An op-ed that journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry wrote in the fall of 2010 led to the first ever city council hearing on street harassment in New York City in late October! Now the city is pursuing the first ever city-wide street harassment study. More than 200 media outlets covered the story.
  • In November, phone tools came out that allow people to report street harassers. The two tools are the HollaBack phone app and HarassMap in Egypt. Hundreds of media outlets covered these stories.
  • In Egypt, right now you can go to a movie theater and watch a film that addresses street harassment!

New Campaigns:

Illustrating the global scope of this problem, several new anti-street harassment campaigns started in countries like the UK, Jordan, Yemen, and Bangladesh.

Creative Initiatives:

I loved all the creativity this year in address street harassment and raising awareness on and offline about its pervasiveness and unacceptability.

Presentations and Talks:

While a lot of the work that I and HollaBack folks do is online, we were able to get offline quite a bit this year to talk to people about street harassment and give presentations at major conferences.


2 Responses to Hooray! Anti-Street Harassment Successes of 2010

  1. Dave Harmon says:

    Octopus Pie (01-06-11) just did a relevant cartoon; Hollaback gets a shout-out in the comments.

  2. Thanks. Yes, I saw the cartoon this morning and blogged about it: https://streetharassment.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/harassers-dont-hibernate/

    BTW, I work with Hollaback on many projects, but I’m separate from them.

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