Keenan and Reuben Could Be You: Wake Up and Sign the Petition

MUMBAI: On October 20th, a group of friends went out to have dinner and watch a cricket match. After dinner, a drunk man harassed a few of the girls in the group. Defending the girls, Keenan and Reuben reprimanded him. Jitendra Rana returned with a large group of his friends and stabbed Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez. Keenan was held down and stabbed until he was disemboweled. He was rushed to the hospital by his friends, his girlfriend Priyanka telephoned his parents on the way. He died soon after his father arrived at the hospital. Reuben was in a critical condition but succumbed to his injuries ten days after the attack.

We mourn the loss of two brave men who had such bright futures ahead of them. Two men who were not willing to accept the harassment of women they cared about. Two men who stood for a world where every person can feel safe and confident in public spaces. Please sign this petition, which calls for a non-bailable jail sentence for the men who committed this heinous crime. Join us as we stand for a world without street harassment. Join us as we stand for the bravery of people in Mumbai, across India and around the world that take a stand against street harassment. Join us as we stand for justice for Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez.


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Patience’s Story: Disgusting

It wasn’t recent, but it took years before I realized that I’d been sexually harassed. I was attending Bates Technical College at the time and I was waiting to be picked up from school when some guy came walking down the street and started hitting on me. I was only sixteen at the time, and I was completely shocked to see that his d*ck was hanging out of his pants. I was disgusted, but too embarrassed to say anything (and I didn’t know what he was doing was harassment). If I could go back now and do something about it, I would.

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HOLLAWho? Meet Chicago.

Meet Hannah Sanders, the patiently persistent activist fighting street harassment in Chicago, IL. 

Why do you HOLLA? Because a lot of people feel that they can’t or worse–that they aren’t supposed to hollaback at sexual harassment.

I holla because no one else on earth speaks for me. No other person is entitled to sum up my personhood with their own ignorance, to apply arbitrary liberties on my freedoms or ineffable human rights, or to inflict mental or physical abuses.

What’s your craft? My craft is free associaton, of course, as well as some photo and a little digital illustration. I also make exceptional milkshakes.

What was your first experience with street harassment? Being 13 and having grown men inappropriately and freely approach my barely mature/developed best friend with phrases like “would you like a man in your life?” and “would you like me to slam you like a screen door?” This scared me so much! It was like they didn’t see her as 13! They were attracted to her, and therefore, she deserved their comments and attention, and that attention presented itself as sexual violence. I didn’t realize until much later that these men are pretty “normal,” my friend is lovely; it was almost like a compliment to make these comments to her. These men had no one to censor them. There is nothing in our culture saying that you cannot talk to a woman that way, especially a young girl.

Define your style: My personality may come across as mild mannered, I was called “benign” once in high school (she followed her question up with “Do you even know what that means?” And yes, I did.) but I’m actually pretty bossy in the same vein as “I don’t suffer fools gladly.” If we’re talking about the types of clothes that I wear, then I stick to simple things like head- to- toe glitter, Gondolier stripes, and corduroy flares.

Say you’re Queen for the day.  What would you do to end street harassment? I would heavily legislate against any media sources that portray femininity, feminine power, etc. in a derogatory fashion. I would say that misogyny is not only against the letter of the law, but also against the spirt of the law. Life is about dealing with people, and because many of us look to entertainment for how to do this, we are “conditioned” to interact with the world with violently rhetoric language. Women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, etc. are scape goats. We live in a time where it is perfectly acceptable to discount and shut down women or minorities based solely on the perceived value of their sexual attractiveness. Our culture is extremely critical and unkind to women that behave in any way other than subordinate. I don’t think this is an overly dramatic observation. Addressing the way that women and minorities are represented is the key to equality and a better country.

What do you collect? Lost cat posters…poor little fluffy things.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Be sweet!…and, just be cool…

My superheroine power is…Thunder leg: infinite patience and sturdy walkin’ legs that make thunder! (and rain)

What inspires you? Friends and family, organizations like: Hollaback!, Discover Hope, Team William, Everyone is Gay, and on and on.

In the year 2020, street harassment…will be discussed in schools. Tools to combat harassment (and bullying) will be taught alongside sincere sex positive education. How about in the year 2020, the word “feminist” will not be derogatory. Feminism will be the simple conceptual platform for all acceptable human interaction.

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Lindsey’s Story: We shouldn’t have to deal with harassment

When I was 14, a friend and I were going for a walk, minding our own business and happened to walk near a construction site. We weren’t even on the same side of the street but many of the men stopped what they were doing just to yell and whistle at us.  It made me feel: embarrassed, frightened, confused, what did we do? It was the first time that I really encountered being treated differently in public and how it and many other incidents have made my wary and vigilant whenever I’m at any public forum, which is ridiculous to expect from women and even young girls. Other forms of harassment haven’t been on the street like this, but rather come from co-workers and from other situations, but all have contributed to my embattled mental state when dealing with male strangers. *sigh* I feel lame writing this from my current 26 year-old-self, but I don’t think girls should have to deal with that.

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OWS: All Day, All Night, Occupy Women’s Rights!


Over 100 people, the majority of which were women, peacefully marched from Zuccotti Park to the NYPD’s first Precinct HQ on Tuesday night to demand that all OWS females in police custody be treated with respect. This action comes after complaints that male officers patrolling the female cells had been violating protocol.

According to the OWS website male police officers were allegedly patrolling female cells unannounced, specifically by the communal female lavatories that are in full view of all women and officers. This is apparently a common method used to humiliate those in custody.

Protesters demand that the NYPD release an official statement to promise that there would be no more instances of humiliation and that the issue be addressed. The crowd could be heard chanting:

“All day, all night, occupy women’s rights!” and “Courtesy, professionalism and respect” also “If you see something, say something!”

We at Hollaback! extend our support to all those that have suffered this terrible injustice. If anyone has any information please contact the complaint line and demand that Commissioner Ray Kelly put an end to this behavior. Call NYPD Internal Affairs: 212.487.7350 or directly NYPD 1st Precinct: 212.334.0611
OWS message to the NYPD: If you SEE something, a fellow officer violating protocol, say something.

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Meg’s Story: “NOT acceptable”

This is a story about my experience one day while living in Buffalo, NY. It’s one of many examples of how women experience street harassment every day.
A few years back I lived in Buffalo, NY for a time. One sunny, breezy, and beauteous summer afternoon, I decided to ride my bicycle over to Delaware Park. I had the day off and wanted to get out in the sunshine and enjoy myself for a little while. I was thoroughly enjoying my leisurely ride around the pond when a Mr. I-wear-sleeveless-tops-and-drink-protein-shakes type passed me on his bike and made a direct kissy noise at me. Needless to say I was skeeved and annoyed but continued on my ride anyways.
A few minutes later I see the same douche bag riding toward me on the trail once again. And once again, he made the creepy kissy noises at me. I thought “Ok.. seriously douche, this has to be the last time you will do this seeing as how I had absolutely no reaction to you.” Well I should have known that I was wrong. This happened twice more before I got too mad and bothered to stay there. So I road my bicycle home. I was pissed. How dare this f*cking douche bag make me feel uncomfortable – so uncomfortable that I choose to end my leisurely bike ride on a beautiful sunny day because I didn’t want to pass him again and hear him make those disgusting kissy noises at me. I should be able to go somewhere by myself and not fear or be bothered by douche bags like this.
Fuming, I made my way home, enjoying the ride that was luckily douche bag free. Or so I thought. I had reached my street, and was riding down the center of the road about a block from my apartment. I saw a little boy of about seven standing on the sidewalk ahead of me. As I rode past him he screamed “Hey! I lost my teddy bear, can I sleep with you?” Which was then also followed up by “Nice ass.” This boy was seven. Seven years old and already harassing women on the street. I will admit that I chuckled a little to myself, just because it was such a cheesy line. But seriously. I was street harassed by a seven year old. What the f*ck.
You don’t have to be conventionally “pretty” or “thin” to be harassed on the street, Basically the only qualification you need is to have a vagina. My friends and I would talk about it quite frequently. They were also harassed constantly while walking around Buffalo. Seeing as how Buffalo is a fairly urban area, I noticed that I was harassed much more often than, say, my home town. Men would say the most derogatory things to my friends and me. All the time. It was just like they had free reign to make women feel as uncomfortable and skeeved out as possible. And what could we do? Talk back sometimes, yes, but often times that would just fuel the fire and make it even worse. However, I came to realize that expressing your distaste with the way you’re treated is better than flat out ignoring it. Women shouldn’t feel silenced and intimidated on the streets. So ladies, next time some low life treats you like a piece of meat on the street, holla back at him and let him know that it is NOT acceptable.

F*ck street harassment and f*ck any society that accepts it as standard behavior.

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Breaking News: Zuccotti Park Evicted and 70 Arrested

In the early hours of Tuesday morning Mayor Bloomberg authorized the mass eviction of peaceful protest Occupy Wall St from Liberty square. Bloomberg told a press conference this morning:

“The final decision was mine and mine alone.”

Law enforcement arrived at Zuccotti Park not long after midnight last night where they handed out letters to protesters declaring that the occupation of the park posed an increasing health risk. It requested that they immediately leave the park so that it could be cleaned and restored. It also stated that the park would be reopened in several hours, when protesters would be permitted to return but without tents, sleeping bags or tarps.

According Occupy Wall St individuals that were a part of the dynamic civil process were beaten, pepper-sprayed and relieved of their personal property.

As a result, members were mobilized and continue to march through the city en masse. So far protesters have marched from Foley Square to City Hall and are continuing their journey. Occupy Wall Street released this statement on their website:

“We are appalled, but not deterred. Liberty Square was dispersed, but its spirit not defeated. Today we are stronger than we were yesterday. Tomorrow we will be stronger still. We are breaking free of the fear that constricts and confines us. We occupy to liberate.

We move forward in the grand tradition of the transformative social movements that have defined American history. We stand on the shoulders of those who have struggled before us, and we pick up where others have left off. We are creating a better society for us all.”

Organizers hope to reenter the park at 9.30 am this morning. There are also rumors of an occupation of the Holland Tunnel.

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Have You Seen This Man?

Police say this is the man who allegedly tried to rape a woman in the East Village on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. (credit: NYPD)


This man is wanted in connection with an attempted rape of a woman in the East Village in the early hours of Sunday Morning.

According to police the suspect is a white man, aged between 25 and 30, 5’9 and weighing approximately 190lbs.

The attacker was alleged to have followed his 27-year-old victim from the First Avenue Subway Station at 14th Street to her home, where he pushed her to the ground and tried to rape her, bravely she fought back causing him to flee the crime scene.

Luckily, he was caught on CCTV and provided law enforcement with a fortunately clear image of him.

So here’s a massive Hollaappeal to anyone in the New York area that recognizes the man in the picture or who has any other information. Hollaback! and either call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-8477 (TIPS) or Log on to the Crime Stoppers website. All calls are kept confidential. Text your tip to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577.

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To Keenan and Reuben: The Boys Who Did Not Look Away

Last month we published an article detailing the heroic actions of Mumbai young men, Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez, who were both savagely murdered when they stood up to street Harassment. Just over a week ago Hollaback! Mumbai payed their tributes to these brave souls and a story that was far too close to home:


If there is anything we are taught from birth it is to avoid confrontation.  To look away. We are moulded as a society to ignore, to not take chances with, to leave well enough alone.

Two weeks ago, a casual dinner turned into a nightmare for a group of young Mumbaikars. As they stepped out after dinner, an altercation with a drunk man led to events which nobody could have foreseen. Reuben Fernandez and Keenan Santos died of stab wounds inflicted by one man with an army of thirteen. The latter died soon after the altercation, the former succumbed to his injuries last night.

Well-meaning folks say they could have avoided the altercation. By looking away. By ignoring it. By leaving well enough alone.

I didn’t know either one personally. What I do know is that I am grateful that they existed at all. I have lived in Mumbai for many years now and this is the city I call home. And yet today, in this city, two boys are dead because they took offense to a drunk man making sexual advances towards a girl in their group. Because they didn’t look away.

Too often I have fought my own battles with a niggling feeling that some man would come and get me back for standing up for myself. Too often I have been upset with male friends who ignored a threat, choosing to look away instead. So when people shrug sadly and remark that looking away was a better option, I feel my heart break.

Because there is a fundamental flaw with that logic. If there is anything that we should learn from the deaths of Reuben and Keenan it is that looking away is not the solution. It is that we have lost our voices, our dignity and indeed our conscience by repeatedly looking away each time we are faced with an assault on our individual and collective dignity. Nobody deserves to die for standing up for someone elses dignity. Nobody deserves to die like that. And that we have begun to believe that is the way things are is where the flaw lies.

Any woman who has walked the streets of this city will attest to feeling the humiliation. Because we face these killers every day. They walk among us, talk dirty to us, feel us up, brush against us, pinch us and grope us and every single time we report these, we are asked to keep our mouths shut for fear of swift and painful retribution.

And so by doing so, we have lost our collective voice. We keep our heads down and we shut our eyes and ears and we move on. Oblivious to other people, oblivious to all the injustice around us. And because two boys refused to do so, because they refused to listen to the naysayers, they are dead. What a horrible way to go! Fighting for a society that probably wouldn’t have done the same for them.

So no, I don’t think they should have looked away. I think we should have looked out for them. We should look out for them now. We should stop looking away before Reuben and Keenan seem like a distant memory.

Thank you, Keenan and Reuben. For not looking away.

You are both heroes in my book.

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Casualty of War: Amber Cole

Make no mistake, we are at war. We are engaged in battle with gender binaries, expectations of gender presentation, rape culture, and a great many number of things- we are most certainly at war. And in war, there are casualties.

I want to apologize. We at Hollaback! Des Moines have not yet addressed the case of Amber Cole, the 14-year-old Baltimore teen who is depicted in a video performing oral sex on a teen boy. The video went viral, and Amber has faced endless shaming, threats, and harassment. The boys have been arrested, and Cole has decided to press charges against them. This is an important subject to discuss, and I’d like to address it now- better late than never.

The following is an excerpt from the Washington Post’s online blog, written by school psychologist and doctoral student Erin Harper:

“The boys who participated in this act are also children who should not have their human rights violated by dragging their names through the same mud as Amber’s. Instead, they should be taught why their behavior is wrong, why it is “okay” for child pornography to be circulated as entertainment, and why society is so twisted that an internet search for Amber Cole’s name yields an “Official” video when the only thing official about the video is that consumers who “know better” are OFFICIAL FREAKING IDIOTS WHO DESERVE OFFICIAL CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES AND OFFICIAL TIME IN JAIL.”

Granted, her caps-lock near the end there reveals some heavy bias, but I believe Harper is tackling an issue few people have- why the boys felt it was alright to upload that video onto the Internet. Why we need to educate our children about sex, laws pertaining to sex, and how despite what they may think, there are consequences to one’s actions. So many parents, bloggers, reporters, etc. have been consumed with “choosing a side” that they have not addressed the reason reasons we’re even talking about this case.
Here: ( is a man who at first claims to be Amber’s father, bashes Amber’s mother, and essentially promotes a “boys will be boys” policy before revealing that is is actually Jimi Izrael. Here: ( is a response by Jeff Fecke, relatively constructive, but still hell-bent on choosing a side.

My personal stance on the Amber Cole case is not to automatically jump on the offensive, bash these boys, and applaud Cole for her bravery; it is instead to examine what deep-seeded issues led to the problem, and how we can address them so things like these cease happening. Amber Cole is not the only teen that has been slandered across the Internet, and yet she has been singled out. Why is that, do we think? Is it her race, her age, her geographic, location, what is it about her?

I don’t know the answer to this question. I have my musings, but no definitive, concrete answer. So I’ll pose the question to you all- why is it, do you think, that among all the American teens who have experienced this type of harassment, we have singled out Amber Cole? Why is it so much easier to either blame her or rally around her, than the address the underlying issues of sexism, racism, and rape culture?

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