NYC Street Harassment Hearing is a Success!

October 28, 2010

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:

Watch testimonies from the hearing

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.

Here’s the HollaBack recap.

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.comFox 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!

Fox News NYC City Council Street Harassment Hearing Clip


Street Harassment Round Up – June 21

June 21, 2009

Stories:

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

  • On this blog, women in Chicago and Hawaii talk about being fed up by the volume of street harassment they face on a daily to weekly basis.
  • On HollaBack Toronto, a contributor wrote a post about having a TTC subway employees flirt with/harass her when she was paying her fare. The Director of Corporate Communications for TTC saw the post and wrote to HB Toronto with information about how passengers can file complaints about employees. This post was followed by one from another contributor telling about a time a TTC employee made her feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Harassment on public transportation is global!
  • On Holla Back NYC, a contributor tells about getting oogled by men at a community pool, but they complained to the pool management and then men had to leave.
  • Holla Back DC! has a contributor post from a woman who was asked “how’d you get that cute ass” by a man who then turned very angry when she asked him not to harass her.
  • Two years ago Blank Noise Project asked readers to submit their list of things they wished they could do in their city (for example, smile when they wanted, not have to think about who’s watching them, be able to go out at night and be safe…) and this past Saturday afternoon, they invited people to come to Cubbon Park to live out their wish list, including wearing something they wished they could wear but never had for fear of harassment.

In the News:

Upcoming Events:

Street Harassment Resource of the Week:


This Friday: Subway Harassment Discussion on the Radio

June 17, 2009

“Sick of being on the alert or being harassed on the subway where crimes that are often discrimination-based that disproportionately affect women, minorities and LGBT folk happen? Find out how the MTA hides these crime stats and what to do about it from Emily May co-founder of HollabackNYC.com and New Yorkers for Safe Transit, and co-chair of Girls for Gender Equity”

On Friday, June 19, 2009, HollabackNYC co-founder Emily May will be on the NYC radio station WBAI from 1 – 1:40 p.m. EST talking about harassment on the NY public transportation system. The show will be accepting calls – so call in to give her your questions and feedback!

You also can listen to the show live over the Internet.


Where’s the Safety Transparency?

June 10, 2009

Emily May, one of the co-founders of HollaBack NYC and one of the recent co-founders of New Yorkers for Safe Transit has a great op-ed piece in the NY’s Metro paper about the lack of safety transparency in the crime statistics for NY’s public transportation system.

MTA says there’s been a drop in crime on the subways, however, Emily doesn’t believe they’re accurately tracking persistant harassment crimes that disproportionately impact people of color, LGBTQ folk, and women who fall both within and without the first two groups of people.

“While the experience of harassment and assault is widespread, our access to information on these crimes is severely limited. In 2007, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office released the only report to date on the issue. According to the report, 63 percent of riders are harassed on the subway, and 10 percent are assaulted. With 5 million people riding the subway every weekday, it is fair to say that these crimes are at epidemic proportions.

The MTA’s recent anti-harassment PSAs suggest victims contact an ‘MTA worker or police officer.’ This is an empty gesture; personnel cuts have made station attendants scarce. Riders lucky enough to find help are ‘ignored’ or told ‘there isn’t much they can do,’ according to posts on HollabackNYC.com.

The subways have come a long way since the ’70s, but cleaner trains are not necessarily safer. If we are going to herald our improvements in transit safety, ‘strikes, shoves and kicks,’  ‘following a person in a public place,’ harassment and other misdemeanors must be included in the MTA’s crime count. Until we have safety transparency in our subway, these crimes will continue to stand clear of the closing doors.”

I whole-heartedly agree. I’m very glad she and the other individuals working on New Yorkers for Safe Transit are engaged in activism around this problem.


Street Harassment Round Up – April 19

April 19, 2009

Stories:

Holla Back DC posted many compelling posts this week, but one of my favorites was about male allies: “Can you imagine the affect this would have if enough men stepped in and said this every time they saw sexual harassment occurring? We would see a positive change.”

On this blog, a contributor wrote about her success in stopping chronic harassers near her workplace.

Activism/Recognition:

ineveraskToday Blank Noise held a street harassment event in Bombay (visit their site for an update on how it went), where women were invited to bring an article of clothing they’d been harassed in and wear clothing they’d always wanted to wear but hadn’t for fear of harassment. Details of the event were e-mailed to the participants with promise of public participation.

Street harassment-focused self defense class by Defend Yourself occurred in DC on April 18. Read my post about attending it.

Emily May of HollaBack NYC has been selected for the Women Media Center’s second class of Progressive Women’s Voices (PWV) for 2009. The program aims to make women visible and powerful in the media everyday and the selected women like Emily are the “go-place for journalists looking for women sources, experts, and commentators.” Emily was selected in great part because of her work on HollaBack and her expertise on street harassment. Congrats, Emily, way to get the issue out there in mainstream media.

Upcoming Events:

April 22, a RightRides volunteer orientation in New York

April 29, Holla Back DC! blog launch party in Washington, DC


HollaBack Shout Outs

March 26, 2009

Shout Outs to a few of my street harassment activist allies & an announcement about the upcoming launch of a new HollaBack DC blog:

  1. Brittany & Hilary of HollaBack Boston and HollaBackTalk. For nearly three years (May 06 – Jan 09) they raised awareness about street harassment and gave people in the Massachusetts area a place to share their harassment stories. They are on a break from their blogs now and I hope sometime soon their schedules will allow them to return to it. Shout Out to Brittany and Hilary for all their time and effort addressing street harassment!
  2. Emily, co-founder and current facilitator of HollaBack NYC. Without HollaBack NYC, there may not be as many people aware of or talking about street harassment. Its launch in 2005 set the stage for allowing people to have a space to share their stories online, feel empowered, and raise awareness about street harassment in NYC and beyond. It inspired dozens of other HollaBack websites. This week, Emily wrote a great article for On the Issues about HollaBack NYC – check it out. Shout Out to her for making sure HollaBack NYC continues and for all her work to make NYC safe for women.
  3. Chai & Shannon are officially launching a new HollaBack DC blog in April. If you’re in the Washington, DC area or have been harassed while visiting DC, send them your stories as they have started taking submissions in preparation for the launch. A DC resident myself (well, for work), I am thrilled to have them as nearby allies and look forward to seeing all they do in the DC area to combat street harassment. Shout Out to them both for embarking on this much-needed work – good luck ladies!