BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
By using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there may be no confusion as to whether Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue. Article 1 states:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
By telling a woman she has “ a great rack”, calling a gay man a “fucking faggot”, or removing one’s penis from its appropriate abode in public is not behaving in the “spirit of brotherhood”, not by any stretch of the imagination. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
“Everyone” includes women and LGBTQ individuals, everyone has the right to express themselves freely in public spaces without fear of abuse from strangers. A transgender person has the right to identify his or herself in the way that feels natural to them, as a woman has the right to dress as she pleases without threat or aggravation. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
Women and LGBTQ individuals have the right to live and express themselves in public spaces without worry of being badgered, stalked, flashed, groped, abused, whistled at, masturbated at or raped. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Calling a transgender person ‘it’ a ‘tranny’ or a ‘heshe’ is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Physically attacking a gay person because of their sexual orientation is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Putting your hand up a woman’s skirt on the subway is inhumane, degrading, torturous and cruel. Street Harassment is a Human Rights issue.
Perpetrators of Street Harassment may argue that it is their human right to express themselves freely, but at this point it is relevant to refer ‘spirit of brotherhood’ cited in Article 1, the connotations of brotherhood do not include any form of abuse be it physical or verbal. Street Harassment is unquestionably a Human Rights issue.
Question answered. Revolution Started.
Check out this short anti-street harassment film from Egypt by Cairo students Merna Karam, May Kassem and Mirna Makary. It is so awesome to see courageous ladies raising awareness of street harassment all over the world, for every person that takes a stand several more are sure to follow, so let’s keep talking about it, educating people and speaking out against it.
We need a Hollaback! in Egypt! You have the power to end street harassment, start a Hollaback! in your area today.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Meet Natalie Warne, an awe-inspiring young lady from humble beginnings who achieved the impossible with spirit, determination and a shed load of Red Bull.
In the following video Natalie speaks about her struggle to run a successful campaign for the Invisible Children Project, the movement that seeks to end the conflict in Uganda and prevent the abductions of children for use as child soldiers. She modestly touches upon how she gained national recognition and the attention of Oprah Winfrey. As a result, President Obama signed a bill in Congress that would apprehend those responsible and fund the recovery of the affected areas.
Warne pays tribute to the selfless vigor of “anonymous extraordinaries” that seek neither fame nor recognition but only hope for change and revolution. The 20-year-old urges young people everywhere to listen to the fire in their belly and let nothing stop them from changing the world.
Here is the video. Warning: You will Cry.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
I always like to start the New Year with plenty of laughs, so 2012 brought me the pompous, misogynistic, racist, not to mention archaic inner thoughts of Texas Representative and more scarily potential Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, in the form of his 1987 book “Freedom Under Siege: The US Constitution 200-Plus Years”.
The book is punctuated with several million “say what?!” moments that are guaranteed to leave you speechless.
Firstly, take a look at Paul’s stand on sexual harassment in the workplace:
“Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable. If force was clearly used, that is another story, but pressure and submission is hardly an example of a violation of one’s employment rights. “
So, if a colleague comments that you have ‘nice rack’ in the dulcet tones of a Tony Bennett sound-a-like it’s fine, in fact, but if it does upset you then you should just leave the company! What brilliant advice! If only Anita Hill had thought of that. If that is not enough to make you take to the streets shouting “Ron Paul is a prize plonker,” then more interesting is Mr. Paul’s take on equal pay:
“The concept of equal pay for equal work is not only an impossible task.”
End of conversation. Next the debate on whether “women have the right to join men’s clubs. What do you think Mr. Paul?
“Women obviously have a right to apply for membership in any group they wish, and a club has a similar right to exclude anyone it wishes.”
Paul goes on to use an example of a woman that sued the Boy Scouts because she ‘claimed’ she had a right to be a Scout Master:
“Women may want to be scout masters, but where did they get this “right” to coerce a private organization to change its rules regarding members and leaders?”
In one fell swoop Ron Paul managed to offend and alienate just about everyone, from AIDS victims to the computer age, what an achievement! And he is a possible presidential candidate?
For your delectation I have selected some more choice lines from the liberal fearing Mr. Paul:
1. “Physicians are sued for less than normal children.”
2. “The twentieth century has delivered a society totally void of standards.”
3. “Liberal theologians promote worldwide socialism and even communism in the name of love, human dignity, and rights, while fundamentalists retaliate by offering economic prosperity for those who believe in the literalness of the biblical message and contribute appropriately.”
4. “Young people, as a result of the welfare ethic accepted today, are not disciplined in the work ethic.”
5. “Every year new groups organize to demand their “rights.” White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots.”
6. “The Computer Age is now upon us, and this technology could easily eliminate completely the privacy that should be cherished by all freedom- loving individuals.”
7. “The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim – frequently a victim of his own lifestyle – but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care.”
8. “To the majority of Americans, the concept of responsibility for one’s own actions, has been replaced by the belief that someone else must pay those who demand a handout.”
In Ron Paul’s defense, when questioned by ABC’s This Week’s Jake Tapper he replied:
“There were some very bad sentences put in. I did not write those, I did not review them. It was an error on my part.”
Is Ron Paul saying that he did not read his own book? Now who is relinquishing responsibility?
(we’re blushing up a storm over here after that Hollaback! shout-out!)
Sitting on a street cafe, sipping my latte in trendy and cultured Central London on a hot summer’s evening, I thought it couldn’t be any better. I paused from reading my novel to admire the smells, sights and noises of the streets – only to find a group of young men, dressed in jeans and brash confidence, staring at me from the opposite side of the street.
I blinked, turned away and automatically pulled down the hem of my knee-length blue summer dress; not exactly provocative, but even when wearing something revealing is no excuse for sexual harassment, it was my first instinct. I tried to ignore them, but out of the view of my peripheral vision, I could see them still gawking.
My breathing quickened as I glanced at them, and saw them crossing the street and coming towards me. I stopped, to find the cocky ringleader demand my number, claiming that he saw me “checking him out” and that I want him. I calmly said no, but was taken aback; he knocked my chair back so that my dress flew up, displaying my underwear, which his friend caught an image of on his phone. They heckled and sauntered away. Another young man sat near me helped me up, and then chased down the street for the gang! He pushed the ringleader into a wall and warned him never to do anything like that again. They left sulkily.
The kind young man returned to the cafe, making sure I was alright. Seeing that this was the example all men should follow as he was such a gentleman, I fell in love and we got married a few years later 🙂
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
The lull between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time for reflection, you’ve consumed four times your body weight in turkey and paralyzed on the sofa you are forced to think of this year’s events. Was it, for instance, absolutely necessary to reiterate the rules of Monopoly to your family in such an abrupt manner? Also, given the substantial bundle that you spent on that spectacular NYE dress that you can now neither pull past your knees or your shoulders, was it essential to buy enough food to feed you and a large army twice over in the event of a nuclear holocaust?
Amidst these important ponderings hopefully you had time to contemplate Hollaback’s State of the Streets Report! It is truly awe-inspiring to see the movement grow from a tiny sapling to a beautifully flourishing revolution. This year Hollaback! has inspired international leadership by training young women and LGBTQ individuals to build their own grassroots movements centered around street harassment, they have managed to shift public opinion and have gained international press from the NY Times to the BBC.
Hollaback! has engaged the attention of numerous elected officials, as well as organizing the first New York City Council world hearing on street harassment. But most importantly Hollaback! has encouraged you the readership to find your voices and speak out on street harassment. To date the organization has published over 3,000 stories of all varying forms of street harassment. But the action does not stop here!
We still need your help! We need to keep spreading the word and educating the masses about what behavior is acceptable in public spaces and how to keep our streets safe. We still need to encourage the world to find their voices and Hollaback! for themselves and for other people. YOU DO HAVE THE POWER TO END STREET HARASSMENT!
My suggestion is that on December 31 you save the $200 you were going to spend on some pretentious club where they make you line up for 30 minutes, only to enter an empty bar, sporadically dappled by people in jaunty headwear that haven’t smiled since the mid 90s when it became unpopular to do so in photos. Save it and then donate it to Hollaback! There’s no better way to see in 2012 than joining a bloody brilliant revolution that involves everyone! 99 per cent of women will experience street harassment in their lives (Kearl 2010) and this study does not even include LGBTQ and Men. Street Harassment, in all its ugly forms, is something everyone on earth shares and together we can stop it. So let’s not procrastinate any longer get your hand in your pocket and donate to a truly worthy cause so the next generation won’t have to!
Happy New Year Hollabackers!!
There were two men in their mid 50’s in the elevator. As soon as I get in I hear “sexy, sexy, sexy”. I did not react because I had just finished dining with my dad and cousin and the last thing that was crossing my mind was that I would have to deal with sexual harassment. The old man became quiet right after my dad entered the elevator with me. Then, my dad noticed they were drunk.
Lesson I learned today: Sexual harassment is UNEXPECTED, I have to be more aware of my surroundings, and carry my pepper spray at all times!!! If my dad would have not been there, the harassment could have been much worst!
Thousands of Israeli protestors gathered on the streets of Beit Shamesh, West of Jerusalem on Tuesday evening demonstrating against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism that caused the harassment of an 8-year-old Jewish girl on her way to school, as well as the systematic abuse of women all over the town.
According to the BBC, protestors sprang into action following a nationwide documentary, which revealed that school girl, Naama Margolese, was terrified of walking to school. Naama said she lived in fear of being abused in the street or even being spat at by ultra-Orthodox men that have been regularly protesting outside a religious girls school about the so called ‘immodest dress’ code of the children.
Naama’s mother, Hadassah Margoleese told the BBC that the school children were having nightmares about the daily abuse. She told reporters about her daughter:
“Whenever she hears a noise she asks, ‘are they there, are they out there?’”
The ultra-Orthodox minority is seeking to segregate men and women and to enforce a strict interpretation of religious laws.
In retaliation the people of Beit Shamesh have stood together in solidarity holding signs saying “Free Israel from Religious Coercion.” Israeli President Shimon Peres is supporting the protest telling reporters:
“The entire nation must be recruited in order to save the majority from the hands of a small minority”.
He called the protest a preservation of the state of Israel’s “character against a minority which breaks our national solidarity.”
Globally and in Turkey, street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence, yet one of the least legislated against. Due to the prevalence of physical and verbal harassment in public spaces, Canımız Sokakat conducted research on the nature of street harassment in Istanbul. We wanted to see understand street harassment beyond the numerous stories we’ve received.
Here are our results:
One respondent to the survey explains: “Whether it is verbal or physical harassment, even after many years, unfortunately, one cannot forget it.” Another respondent echoes a similar sentiment: “It has been two and a half years since that incident, but I still feel fear and panic riding buses.” These feeling could be why 93% of our respondents consider street harassment an important issue today:
This research is only the beginning for us. We know there are hundreds of thousands undocumented stories of street harassment and that there are so many victims and bystanders who have been silenced by a culture that supports harassers. Research like this is one major step to understand street harassment in Istanbul and ultimately combat it. Any questions on our research, email us [email protected]. And help us out submitting your story of street harassment today!