Airport Scanner Agents Target Female Travelers



The TSA, the government body responsible for protecting the nation’s transportation systems to ensure safe travel, have received several complaints from women who claim to have been targeted by airport screeners to view their bodies.

According to online magazine, Ellen Terrell, who travelled from Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport told CBS News that a female agent appeared to be singling out certain females on request from male agents in an adjacent room. Terrell was even directed through the scan a number of times because the picture was said to be “blurry.”

Following the third scan the TSA agent apparently became agitated telling her co-workers on her microphone:

“Guys, it is not blurry, I’m letting her go.”

Terrell told CBS that she felt “totally exposed” and was positive that their only motive for sending her through the scanner multiple times was to “have a nice look” at her body.

Another woman said that she felt “targeted by the TSA employee to go through the see-you-naked machine because” she is “a semi-attractive female.” While another said:

“The screener appeared to enjoy the process of picking someone rather than doing true random screening. I felt this was inappropriate. A woman behind me was also ‘randomly selected.’”

CBS contacted the TSA and this is the response that they received:

“All of our millimeter wave technology units including those in Dallas have been upgraded with additional privacy enhancements that no longer display passenger-specific images… To further ensure passenger privacy and anonymity, a privacy filter was applied to blur all images.”

Good job too! It seems like a no brainer to me that males would be allowed to view females in the “see me naked machine,” particularly as pat-downs are always performed by the same sex, the same policy should be put in place for the scanning agents. I am absolutely happy to endure the most extensive of airport security to ensure complete safety when travelling, however, it is truly staggering that there are degenerate creeps that would abuse not only the system, but would violate an individual’s fundamental human right to privacy. Terrorists are not in the habit of hiding weapons of mass destruction in their bras.


Turkey: Female Judge Takes a Vacation and Rapists Walk Free


A 24-year-old rapist has escaped a prison sentence in Turkey while the only female judge was on leave on the grounds that the sex was consensual because the victim did not scream.

For two years, the woman, who is a mentally disabled widow and mother, was raped by her neighbor, who threatened to kill her and her 3 children when she said she did not want to have sex with him. It was only after discovering that the woman was 8 months pregnant, that he was arrested. Prosecutors were able to convict him based on the DNA evidence taken from the baby.

Without considering the woman’s mental state, the fact that her life was being threatened and that her children’s lives were being threatened, the court has relied on a rigid, outdated misconception on the definitions of rape. In a country where 45 percent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 60 have experienced physical or sexual assault, it can be difficult to see how Turkey is making inroads for gender equality. Yet, despite the troubling statistics, the voices of Turkish women and girls continues to grow in the face of increasing inequality for women. Additionally, 78 members of Turkish Parliament elected last year were women. Since the lone female judge’s absence may have carried significant sway regarding the lack of justice the rape survivor received when the rapist was released early, it could have easily played out differently had more female judges been present.

It may still be an uphill battle ensuring women have adequate legal protections from rape, domestic violence and harassment, however, as more women continue to enter the workforce, run for public office and make up almost half of college students, Turkey’s legal system will gradually be forced to acknowledge the rights of women.

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Let’s Oust Homophobic Chicken Franchise at NYU!

BY CATHERINNew York University: Stop serving anti-gay Chick-fil-A on campusE FAVORITE

Chick-Fil-A, the American chicken restaurant has made quite a name for itself of late and it’s not for their chicken strips. Via the restaurant chain’s charity, WinShape, the organization has donated over $2 million to groups that promote anti-gay rhetoric, such as Focus On The Family, Exodus International and the Family Research Council.

Hillary Dworkoski has created a petition New York University: Stop Serving Anti-Gay Chick-Fil-A on Campus. Her petition letter reads as follows:

While Chick-fil-A denies having an “agenda against anyone,” an investigation by Equality Matters revealed that Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, WinShape, donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2009 alone. That $2 million supported groups such as Focus On The Family, Exodus International, and the Family Research Council.

And New York City’s only Chick-fil-A is located in a cafeteria in a New York University dorm.

NYU prides itself on being a diverse, open and inclusive campus community. Unfortunately, maintaining a contract with an anti-gay vendor like Chick-fil-A undermines what makes this university so great.

While the NYU Student Senators Council recently voted not to remove vendors for political reasons, they did retain that the school could remove vendors that violate human or labor rights. As Secretary Clinton recently announced, “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” As such, I respectfully request that NYU remove Chick-fil-A from campus.

By signing this petition, you will help send a strong message to New York University, an institution which “prides itself on being a diverse, open and inclusive campus community,” that by keeping the chain they are doing the exact opposite of what they preach.


Do the words “Felony Assault” Mean Anything to the Grammys?


Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg summed up the Chris Brown’s/Grammys debacle perfectly on Twitter last weekend when he said:

“Chris Brown? I don’t look to the Grammys for moral clarity, but, really? Do the words ‘felony assault’ mean anything at all?”

And The Atlantic writer is not the only person that feels this way. The Grammys and Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich have been receiving criticism left, right and center for giving Brown a second chance to perform at the event. Particularly after Ehrlich dared to say that the Grammys were victims of the grisly 2009 incident. Of course our hearts bleed and our violins play for the trauma that must have been caused to the Grammys, compared with the injuries sustained by Rihanna that showed welts above her eyebrows, bruises on her cheeks and bloodied lips.

Despite turning himself, it seemed that 1,400 hours of community service, domestic violence counseling and a 50 yard restraining order was a trivial punishment for the crime. The most disturbing fallout from allowing Brown to play the Grammys were twitter responses to his performance such:

“”Not gonna lie, I’d let Chris Brown beat me.”

Which is why we need to act! Activist Brett Simons has started petition The Grammys: Apologize to Domestic Violence Victims. The petition already has 1,090 signatures but it needs 1,500. So get clicking and make sure the Recording Academy understand the severity of their actions.


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Interview: Meet One of the Minds Behind the bSafe Smart Phone App


We had a chance to pick the brain of one of the business minds behind the bSafe smart phone app, Nils Knagenhjelm. Created by Bipper, (the makers of smart phone safety apps), “bSafe”, among other things, allows the user to alert selected contacts of their whereabouts, in case they find themselves in a threatening situation, with a simple touch of a button. Nils shared his insights behind bSafe, as well as his inspiration for working for Bipper.


Why did you decide to work for Bipper? 

About 3 years ago, my wife (who is American) had a scary experience while we were on vacation in my hometown of Oslo, Norway. She had been out to dinner with my sister-in-law and was going to take a taxi from the restaurant to my parents’ house less than one mile away. However, the cab driver decided to ignore my wife’s instructions and got onto the high-way heading out of town. She told the driver to turn around, but he insisted he knew where he was going even though the 2 minute ride had turned into 10. She was lost and scared, but told the driver (who barely spoke English) my sister- in-law had the cab number and was expecting a call from her as soon as she returned home.

The driver then mentioned he mistakenly had the wrong address, made a u-turn and 10 minutes later dropped my wife off at the correct address.

First thing we agreed on after this episode was to always carry a cell-phone, but we also saw a need for an alarm or location device of some sort. Coincidentally I was introduced to Silje and Bipper shortly after and I was intrigued by the start-up that wanted to develop mobile solutions to increase personal safety for kids and families.  This was a company I could relate to and I wanted to be part in making these solutions available to everyone.
What do you think inspired the founder of Bipper, Silje Vallestad, to create this smart phone application? 

Silje has, as many other women, experienced uncomfortable and frightening situations and had her own personal reasons for developing a solution that made it easier to alert people if they felt threatened. It was initially a feature that was included in a mobile parental control solutions we developed (Silje’s own kids was the motivation for developing that solution) We got lots of feed-back from mothers (including Silje) who mentioned that they would take their kid’s phone when they went out at night for walks etc because of the safety alarm. When  Silje was named Female  Entrepreneur of the year in Norway last year she decided to use the prize money to develop bSafe and to make it available to everyone for free.
One of the options of the bSafe application, the “Risk Mode”, is that it notifies the user of dangerous areas. What sort of data does the bSafe application use to determine the level of “danger” in an area? 
The risk mode feature has actually been renamed “Follow Me” to better describe its purpose (we are working on a feature more in line with how you have explained it…). “Follow Me” is a helpful feature for those who are walking home or jogging alone. Select those Guardians you want to follow you and they will receive link to trace you live. bSafe can be set to automatically activate the alarm if you have not checked-in in time.

Smart phones are a great resource for protecting ourselves when we’re alone, in public (whether through enabling us to take photos of a street harasser, or having an emergency button that alerts contacts of our exact location). Do you see any potential for victim blaming (if, for example, someone had this app on their phone, but did not use it in the event of an assault)? 

Unfortunately victim blaming is an issue in itself. It’s hard to say who is more exposed to that. Those who have bSafe kind of apps but for some reason don’t use it, or those that get assaulted  but have no emergency app, pepper-spray or other self protection devices.
How do you think this application empowers women and the LGBTQ community, in particular?

Everyone has the right to be and feel safe, unfortunately that is not the case, which is why great initiatives like yours are launched. BSafe was developed to make people feel safer when walking alone and to give them confidence and security against threats and dangerous situations.

Knowing that you are surrounded by a network of Guardians should be a comforting feeling when you are walking alone. The ability to alert them makes you feel safer and that they can see where you are or follow your movements to make sure you get home ok adds a level of security.

With bSafe you never walk alone……….

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Activism Works! Target Stalker Card Goes Bye-Bye


The Target Card that is No More!

On Thursday we published an article condemning a Target Valentine’s card that trivialized stalking and urged readers to sign the Care2 petition against it. The following day target announced that they would be pulling the card from their shelves. Target spokesperson, Kristy Welker wrote in an email to Forbes:

“It is never our intent to offend guests with the products we offer and we take feedback from guests’ very seriously. We immediately made the decision to remove this card from our selection.”

So hats off to all you wonderful activists that put your index fingers to great use and signed the petition! There is a valuable lesson to be learned here and that is that ACTIVISM WORKS! And you have proved it! The power to change the world is in our awesomely capable hands, so take one of those hands and pat yourself on the back because you rock!


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A Week in Our Shoes: 2/10/12

Me and Councilmember Ferraras


Hello Hollaback! supporters and revolutionaries!

Take a look at this week ‘s HOLLAnews and updates with our latest installment:

– Awesome Collaborations: We spent the week hanging out with Jenn Sayre and Marigail Sexton from national bystander campaign, Greendot, hammering out our collaboration with them, which will include trainings on how to be a bystander administered by our site leaders.  To learn more about our soon-to-launch bystander initiative, see our “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign video.

– Out and About: I was honored to be invited to Council Member Julissa Ferrera’s State of the District address on Thursday in Jackson Heights where she discussed her ongoing commitment to ending street harassment.  Plans for the coming year include holding the 2nd annual street harassment hearing in April and a community safety audit in Elmhurst/Jackson Heights.

In the Press: Hollaback! and Hollaback! Baltimore got a shout out from North Baltimore Patch columnist Mike Moran.

Thanks Hollaback! supporters for another fantastic week of fighting street harassment and keeping the revolution alive!

HOLLA and out!


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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month!

This is your opportunity to use your time, hands, feet, voice and general awesomeness to raise awareness of teen dating violence in the month of February!

The statistics featured on the Teen-Dating Violence Awareness Month website are staggering: One in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner; nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year; one in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner; only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse; and 80% of parents believe it is not an issue.

But together we can change this! There’s an abundance of ways that you can get involved to make teen-dating violence not only common knowledge but a thing of the past. Here’s some ways in which you can alter the course of history:

– Download the teen-dating violence factsheet and check out these resources to get clued-up so you can spread the word to all you know.

– Make your own or order the official stickers through the Let Your Heart Rule Campaign.

Write a Letter: Use our templates to petition the leaders in your community to celebrate February with you.

Join a Group: Join the movement against dating abuse by joining already existing campaigns.

Host an Event: Organize a press conference, poetry slam or play – you name it we have the tools you need to get started.

Write an Op-ed: Make your voice heard across your entire community by writing an op-ed. We have a template, writing tips and submission ideas to get you going.

Post About It: Spread the word by posting a virtual message or actual poster about Teen DV Month.

Teen DV Month is now in its third year of existence. It is celebrated by leaders in government student bodies, schools, youth service providers, community-based organizations, parents and now you! So get organizing and make a change so the next generation won’t have to.

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Article, Stalking, Uncategorized

“Stalker is a Harsh Word, I Prefer Valentine”


This year Target is selling one Valentine’s Day card that draws only the sound of crickets and tumbleweeds rather than laughter. The front of the card reads:


“Stalker is a harsh word” and the inside says: “I prefer Valentine”.


Considering that 54 percent of female murder victims reported being stalked, this is one crime that should never be equated with love.  Regardless of your feelings about Valentine’s Day, it should go without saying that there is never a good time to make light of stalking, especially not on a day that is supposed to be about letting the people in your life know you care about them. Apparently, Target has not gotten the memo, yet.


By making light of what is a serious, terrifying and potentially violent crime for 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men in the United States, Target is normalizing the message that stalking is acceptable behavior. Even worse, they are diminishing the concerns of victims of stalking and contributing to the dangerous attitude that one should not report it to the police. So Hollabackers, let’s call Target out on their insensitivity! By signing this Care2 petition, you will help send a message to Target that jokes about stalking are not edgy or humorous.


“Operation Creep-Be-Gone”


A blogger out of the U.K. has an excellent suggestion that we would like to reiterate: “Operation Creep-Be-Gone”. Have you ever marveled at what street harassers get away with in public? Has there ever been a time when you were being followed, catcalled or made to feel unsafe in a public place and why, despite all the other people around you, you still felt unsafe or threatened?

The inspiration for “Operation Creep-Be-Gone” came from this blogger’s particular experience at witnessing another woman being harassed:

I saw a woman, on a busy Euston Road at 6pm, being hounded by a man. He wasn’t being outwardly aggressive, but he was sliming round her like a slug in an overcoat, asking questions and ignoring all clear signals (headphones in, one-word answers, refusal to make eye contact) that she wasn’t interested.

I caught the girl’s eye and mouthed “are you ok?”, to which she shook her head. So then I had a decision to make, quickly. To barge in like the Green Cross Code Man and say “STOP, letch! She doesn’t want to talk to you. RETREAT,” before blasting him with a sonic ray gun, or the alternative; pretend to be her mate.  “There you are!” I cried, launching myself on her (for if I’m going to do a good deed I may as well get a hug out of it). “Hi!” she faked, as I dragged her away. Then we stood together on the pavement miming friendly chat like a couple of am-dram actors, while Slug Man stared, lingered, and eventually slithered off back to his cabbage patch.

While this blogger rightly stepped in to help, she noted, “There must have been 20 people within view and earshot standing nearby, yet nobody else paid the slightest attention.” Does our fear of bringing unwanted negative attention onto ourselves influence a decision not to step in to assist someone, or is it because many still dismiss street harassment as a legitimate threat?

Regardless of the reasons behind this seeming ambivalence, this woman’s story serves as an important reminder to speak up, not just against your own street harassers, but to the street harassment of others, as well.

…nobody’s saying you have to leap in with your handbag swinging. Even a stern glance or a calm, disapproving presence could help. A well-timed ‘tut’ might still go some way to helping these lowlifes learn that harassing us for the simple crime of possessing ovaries is Not Ok.

The idea behind Operation Creep-Be-Gone could go a long way toward combating not only the actions of street harassers, but to countering the quiet, implicit acceptance of anyone who witnesses another person getting street harassed.

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