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This is cross-posted from Hollaback! Boston.
Women who sign up for Streetsafe, which starts at $19.99 a month, can call the company’s trained security advisers 24/7, no questions asked. Streetsafe offers two services: “Walk With Me,” billed as a personal safety escort service, and “Silent Alarm.” The latter is self explanatory — if you’re not able to call 911 yourself, slide a red button and StreetSafe will do it for you, using your GPS data to contact your local police station — but the former feature is really what makes the app stand out. “Imagine walking alone, or in an uncomfortable environment, but nothing has happened, so you can’t call 911. Walk with Me connects the user to a live Safety Advisor who will stay on the phone with you and keep you alert until you get to your destination safely,” says their website. If the situation becomes more dangerous, Streetsafe will contact 911, but the officials I spoke with said that hasn’t actually happened since they launched last August. Instead, most StreetSafe customers use the service on a regular basis, as a precaution.
I think we can all agree that the fact that we even have to fear walking alone on the street is a sad reality (one that we’re trying to change with your help!). The Jezebel article describes the app as being for “proactive and paranoid women,” the latter half of which I have to take issue with. Is it really paranoid to be afraid of being approached, threatened, or asasulted when experience and statistics prove that certain demographics (women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community) are more likely to have these things happen to them? I would call that being realistic and having geniune concern for your safely, not being “paranoid,” which is a symptom of psychotic mental illness.
I see pros and cons to this app. Many people already do this kind of thing already. I know that I often call my mother when I’m walking alone. This Hollaback Girl called her brother. It’s very common to say to people “if you don’t hear from me by this time, make sure that nothing has happened to me,” or “please stay on the phone with me until I get home/to work/to my appointment.” Not everyone has someone that they can call, which would make this app a good resource for them. It would also be a good resource for people that work hours not conducive to calling a friend for a chat on their walk home– I know that I don’t have many friends that would appreciate a 2 AM phone call “just until I get home.” I also really like the 911 feature of this app. Though the company says that they haven’t had to use it yet, I like knowing that it’s an option.
On the otherhand, being on the phone can help lower your guard and make you a better target for being attacked since you are less aware of your surroundings while you’re distracted. The prices are also kind of high, so there is definitely a specific demographic that would be using this app. On the whole, though, the pros seem to outweigh the cons. There is also an app available for Android called “Guard My Angel” that is similar in nature (but utilizes texts moreso than calls) and costs less money.
What are your thoughts on this app? Would you use it? What do you do when you feel unsafe on the streets?
I was late for school, really late, but what’s new? I was stressing over a paper and test in my English class and needed some caffeine to take the edge off. I stopped at a local 7-11 on my way to get my fix, and walked up to the cash register to pay for my purchase.
A man, average height, late 40’s, entered the store as I was waiting in line to pay. I have a habit of surveying everyone around me because of a prior experience with rape, and as per usual, I checked his threat level. I labeled him orange – which, in my terms, means he probably will whistle or perform a “NON-THREATENING” act of crude behavior. (As a side note, I find it ridiculous that I have to do this, regardless of where I am, but it’s an obsession of mine that will not dissipate until our culture changes its view on rape and violence against women.)
He stood behind me and proceeded to hiss in my ear. I could feel his breath on my neck, that’s how close he was to me. He whistled so loudly, I jumped and turned around. He then proceeded to lick his lips and gyrate his body. It was disturbing, to say the least.
I am incapable of not saying anything these days to the people who harass me. There were about 6 people in the store, so I loudly spoke up, allowing everyone to hear me crystal clear.
“SIR, YOU ARE ACTING LUDE AND DISGUSTING. DO YOU HAVE DAUGHTERS? IS THIS THE KIND OF BEHAVIOR YOU WOULD WANT THEM TO EXPERIENCE? THIS IS DISTURBING, SIR. I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU COULD TREAT ME LIKE A HUMAN BEING, INSTEAD OF A PIECE OF MEAT THAT IS DANGLING IN FRONT OF A PACK OF WILD DOGS. I AM A WOMAN. I AM NOT SUBHUMAN, I AM NOT YOUR PLAY THING, AND I AM NOT YOUR OBJECT. CHECK YOURSELF, SIR. NOW APOLOGIZE.”
Needless to say, I embarrassed him beyond belief, and he muttered an “I’m sorry” under his tobacco breath. I paid for my drink, walked out, and got into my car. I sat there for a moment, engine running, and cried.
That is, until a woman came running from the 7-11 and knocked on my window.
“Thank you,” she said, fighting back her own tears. “Thank you for doing that. I was raped when I was 15 by a man I trusted. I never had the courage to speak up to the hundreds of other men who catcall, harass, and threaten me on a monthly basis. You have just given me the strength to stand up for myself. Thank you.”
I was stunned. Ladies, please know you are never alone in this. We are in it together. United we stand.
I was walking to campus from Walgreens when some guy with his hands shoved in his sweatpants pockets started following me. He followed me almost to the park, at which point I was basically running, yelling about how big his dick was and how much I’d like it. When he stopped following, he started calling me a bitch and an assortment of other great names. I’m just glad he didn’t follow me any further.
I was meeting some friends for drinks at around 6pm on a summers evening last year, it was still light and I was walking alone. I turned onto a quiet street and two men who were noticeably drunk passed me on the opposite side of the road. One of them shouted over to me “Hey wanna come back to mine and fuck?”, the other man looked embarrassed and laughed nervously trying to hold his friend up as he was stumbling around. I stopped and faced them and looked at the guy in disgust and declined his offer. The man then shouted “what the fuck you should be paying me to have sex with you!”, his friend apologized to me and dragged the guy away. I felt so angry afterwards that someone can say things like that to a complete stranger and think it’s all a big joke!
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
The consultative Shura Council of Saudi Arabia has completed an outline of a new law that would initiate several punishments for sexual harassment crimes throughout the country, according to Arabianbusiness.com.
For the draft law to become legislation its details must be firstly agreed to by the 150-member Shura Council within 30 days. It is then passed to King Abdullah to be approved.
Member of the Shura Council and political science professor, Dr. Sadaka, endorsed the draft law telling Arabic news organization Al-Eqtisadiya:
“This is a common problem that can be found in all societies but in varying degrees. It increases in mixed places such as malls and workplaces and it results in many social and psychological problems for victims.”
Though we at Hollaback! do not endorse flogging or $13,000 fines, we are pleased that Saudi Arabia is paying attention to street harassment in a country where women are still largely segregated. In September of last year, Saudi ruler King Abdullah declared that from 2015 women would be able to vote, be appointed to the Shura Council and stand in municipal elections. Officials have also announced that they would allow Saudi female athletes to compete in the London 2012 Olympics. It is absolutely staggering that these simple human rights that we take for granted everyday are not available to Saudi women, and we hope this attention to street harassment is the first of many cultural shifts to come.
Big thanks to Blake for all her work! Check it OUT!
From one of our readers: “I’m riding the Brooklyn Coney Island bound R train Saturday 3-24-12 at about 5:40am, I was on my phone and happened to look up and see a man fondling himself. At first I thought he had an itch until he revealed himself. I took his picture so I could put him on blast. Ladies, please be aware of this dirt bag!!”
This guest blog post is reprinted from the Hollaback Brussels Facebook page about the “Chalk Walk” they took on March 24, 2012.
Morning. Saturday. 10.30 am. The sun’s slowly coming up over the rooftops. The streets of Brussels are greeting us. All 4 of us are on ‘our way’. Anxious.
We meet up at ‘Ribaucourt, Molenbeek’. The place where Angelika was harassed. The streets still look quite empty, as if Brussels hasn’t fully woken up yet.
We arrive cheerfully to the ‘spot’, we organise, make our DIY ‘banners’, excited. Time to start. This is Angelika’s moment. With colorful chalk she starts to write on the sidewalk. People pass by glancing quickly, trying to read what she’s writing. ‘I was harassed here. I Hollaback. I reclaim the street.’ she writes strongly.
When it’s over we hug and congratulate Angelika and with our banner she goes and stands at the top of her chalk-text, reclaiming this street, this sidewalk!
Next stop: Lemonnier. The place where Anna was harassed. The tram takes us there and Anna retells parts of her story. She shows us where she went and stood trying to get away from her harasser, there, in the middle of that four-lane boulevard.
The ritual is the same. She starts to write, getting into the moment. People pass. Try to read. When it’s over we hug her firmly and congratulate her. She proudly and beautifully reclaims this spot.