Support anti-street harassment efforts this holiday season

December 18, 2010

Lately, I’ve been inundated with e-mails and letters from every organization I donated to during their year + their best friend organizations, asking me to donate again. As much as I obviously care about most of those organizations if I’ve already donated to them, my end of year giving is going to two organizations that do anti-street harassment-related work, RightRides and RAINN. You may be interested in donating to them, too.

  • Right Rides for Women’s Safety: For more than six years RightRides has been giving free rides home to women and male members of the LGBQT community on Friday and Saturday nights in New York City. This free service is particularly helpful to people who cannot afford a cab and are reliant on buses and subways and feel unsafe waiting for or taking these late at night. RightRides has a page about the many ways you can become involved. A new feature is recurring gifts. $10/month can cover rides home for 12 people that year and $25/month covers about 30 people’s rides home. Any amount helps.
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): Individuals across the United States can seek immediate assistance and advice if they or someone they know are survivors of rape and sexual violence via RAINN’s national phone hotline and online chat feature. While most people know their attacker, about 25 percent do not, and many of those cases are strangers in public places who harass and attack them. When too often survivors of sexual violence are blamed for it and thus are silenced and don’t know what to do, RAINN’s services are very important. RAINN also works on prevention legislation and programming. If you donate by Dec. 31, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar, so you can make double the impact.

Here are additional suggestions for organizations whose work makes public places – and the world in general – safer for women and girls. Not only could you do end-of-year giving to them, but you could make a gift out of donating in honor of family members and friends who care about ending and/or are impacted by street harassment.

  • Blank Noise – Support work in India to raise awareness about and end eve teasing/street harassment through performance art and online activism
  • Defend Yourself – Support the work of a Washington, DC organization that holds community workshops and classes that teach skills to stop harassment, abuse and assault. They particularly focus on girls, women, and LGBQT folks.
  • Girls for Gender Equity – Support a NYC organization that empowers teenage girls and has tackled street harassment through surveys, documentaries, conferences, and books
  • Helping Our Teen Girls – Help fund the programs of an Atlanta, GA, organization that empowers teenage girls and has tackled street harassment through workshops and music.
  • Hollaback – Support the NYC-based organization so they can  fund new Hollaback websites around the world
  • The Line – Help fund programs to raise awareness of healthy sexual boundaries, important work that can help prevent street harassment and sexual assault.
  • Men Can Stop Rape – Support rape prevention programming in middle and high schools and colleges that focuses on providing boys with a safe place to talk about masculinity issues and learn healthy definitions of manhood.
  • The White Ribbon Campaign – Support an international organization that works to educate young men and boys about gender equity, respect and healthy relationships.
  • Women for Women International – Help fund programming that helps women in war-torn areas gain skills and resources necessary to rebuild their lives and increase their safety in their community. You can also sponsor an individual woman as a sister.

And are you looking for other last-minute gift ideas? I can suggest a few:

Weekly Round Up March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010


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NYC steps up efforts to make subways safer

December 2, 2009

As any woman living in or visiting NYC, or as anyone reading the website HollaBackNYC will know, street harassment is a major problem there.

Public transportation is one of the hot spots for such offenses. The NYC Transit says there have been 587 reports of sexual offenses in the subway system so far this year, mainly on the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 lines. Harassment and assault are very under-reported, so the real numbers are far worse.

For more than a year, New Yorkers for Safe Transit have been working specifically to make the subway and bus systems harassment-free. For example, for over a year there have been anti-sexual harassment print ads and, for almost a year, audio ads on several subway lines, thanks to their efforts. Recently they testified at a hearing on sexual harassment on public transportation.

Their continued pressure and activism is leading to more efforts on the part of NYC’s transit system.

  • MTA reports they will increase the number of automated messages in the subway stations warning against assaults and they will begin distributing anti-groping posters and brochures.
  • They are working with the NYPD to have more officers at stations, especially during rush hour, so targets of sexual harassment can more easily report offenders. Victims of subway sexual harassment can also call NYPD’s Sex Crimes Report Line at 212.267.RAPE.
  • Building off the method HollaBackNYC uses for “hollaback”ing at harassers with camera phone photos, NYPD is working on a pilot program that would enable victims to send photos of harassers to police officers, who can investigate the case even after the harasser has slipped away into a crowd. This is essential because so often harassers only harass when they know they can escape or when they know there will be no witnesses.

Lastly, here are recent tips released by the NYPD for dealing with sexual harassment on the subway:

  • Do not be ashamed or afraid to report the offense to the police or an MTA employee immediately.
  • During off hours, wait at the marked waiting areas on the station platforms and sit in the conductor’s car when the train arrives.
  • Know your way around your subway stations: the locations of exits and where stairwells lead.
  • If the sex offense happens on a crowded subway car, if you can do so safely, step away from the perpetrator and loudly let others know what the offender is doing.
  • If you are in an empty car, leave the car and find one with more passengers.
  • If you can do so safely, use your cell phone to take a photo of the perpetrator, or make a note of any distinctive features or items of clothing.
  • If the perpetrator follows you off the train, call the police and stay in a crowded area.
  • Remain alert and awake.

Kudos to the New Yorkers for Safe Transit for keeping on the pressure and to the MTA and NYPD for stepping up their efforts to make subways safer and freer of sexual harassment.

Hearing on NYC Subway Harassment

November 20, 2009

Earlier this week I called out the New York Times for trying to compare street harassment to loud cell phone talkers and said I hoped one day they would address the problem of street harassment in a serious way. Lo and behold, yesterday they covered harassment on public transportation.

The New York Times reported on a joint hearing of three City Council committees — Transportation, Women’s Issues and Public Safety — and officials from the Police Department and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to discuss sexual harassment on subways and buses.

At the hearing everyone acknowledged that this is a big problem in New York City, especially during late morning rush hour (8 to 10 a.m.) and early afternoon rush hour (4 to 6 p.m.).  The crowded Nos. 4, 5 and 6 lines between Grand Central Terminal and Union Square, they said, is a particular source of complaints.

James P. Hall, chief of the Police Department’s Transit Bureau, said that sexual harassment was the “No. 1 quality of life offense on the subway.” As of Nov. 15, there had been 587 reports of sex offenses in the subway system this year. He said, “However, we strongly suspect this is a highly underreported crime.” I agree!

Some of my street harassment activists friends who formed New Yorkers for Safe Transit testified too.

They are working on getting better reporting methods and numbers for sexual harassment and assault on the subways. This week Councilwoman Jessica S. Lappin introduced a bill that New Yorkers for Safe Transit support, one that would require the police to collect data on sexual harassment in the subways.

“This is important because historically, harassment is overlooked by law enforcement authorities,” said Oraia Reid, a founding member of New Yorkers for Safe Transit who testified at the hearing.

Ms. Reid, who is also the executive director of RightRides for Women’s Safety, said another challenge was to get law enforcement to take the harassment more seriously.

She added, “It’s actually been very disempowering to report sexual harassment and assault.”

Yeah, like remember when a woman got a photo of a man masturbating on the subway and reported it to a police officer who then told her, incorrectly, that it wasn’t a police matter and to call 311?

Another example – one woman who took my informal anonymous survey last year and lives in NYC said one time when she reported a man that was following her in the subway station to the police, the officer said he didn’t blame the guy (implying she was pretty and so it was natural for a man to follow her…). So clearly there are police officers who need more education and training on the issues and how to help people who report harassers.

But I’m glad the NY Times covered this story and this issue. We need them to keep on doing so!

I also want to say a big GREAT JOB! to New Yorkers for Safe Transit!! They’ve only been around about a year and already they are making a huge difference in the NYC community. Check out their website and submit your NYC mass transit sexual harassment story.

Benefit for Safe Walk

July 6, 2009

Come out to Silent Barn in Brooklyn on Wednesday, July 7 (8 p.m. – midnight) for a benefit concert featuring Lady Bright, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Old Hat, and the Eskalators! There will be music, baked goods (vegan and non), beverages, information tables, and dancing. All funds (sliding scale charge of $6-10 to attend) will go toward offsetting the operational costs of Safe Walk.

RightRides, a nonprofit in Brooklyn, NY, offers free rides home to women, LGBTQ and gender queer individuals on Friday and Saturday nights from 11:59 PM – 3 AM, (early Saturday or Sunday morning) in up to 45 NYC neighborhoods across four NYC boroughs.

They also offer anyone walking to their destination a free, safe walking buddy through their Safe Walk program on Fridays, 11 p.m. – 2 a.m., May through October, in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn, NY, including: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Greenpoint, Williamsburg. The dispatch number is: (866) 977- WALK (9255)

So come out and enjoy good music & food while helping a great program aimed at public safety continue offering services to people in Brooklyn!

Want to volunteer with Safe Walk? Find out how on the RightRides website.