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Increase in Rape Reports in India Suggest Women Have Found Their Voice

BY CATHERINE FAVORITE

Last weekend The Times of India reported that the number of cases of rape, molestation and harassment registered with the Madhya Pradesh State Women’s Commission more than doubled last year, compared to previous years.

The number of rape cases registered with the Commission jumped from 62 between 2009-2010, to 141 between 2010-2011. Workplace harassment cases grew as well from 115 in 2009, to 268 between 2010-2011.

While this sharp increase in gender-based crimes is indeed alarming, Rashmi Sarawat, chief executive officer, Mahila Chetna Manch, offered some perspective and a slight silver lining to these statistics:

“At the same time, growing awareness levels helped more women shed their social stigma and come out in the open. More women are now aware of the Domestic Violence Act and Vishakha guidelines issued by the Supreme Court for workplace harassment. This may be the prime reason for more number of cases related to violence against women coming to light.”

It may not be easy to confront the real numbers of rape, domestic abuse and harassment survivors (in the United States, a recently revealed figure that one in four women will be raped in their lifetime has caused some commotion). Yet, the large figures not only mean that more survivors are beginning to feel safe enough to come forward, but that the public must pay attention to the crimes that all too often go unaddressed or are swept aside. With more attention paid to these numbers, comes more public outrage. This is the first step to stronger laws (or better enforcement of these laws) protecting women as human beings in both the public and private sphere.

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HOLLAWho? Conocer Puerto Rico.

Meet Katsí Yarí Rodríguez, the fiery activist fighting street harassment in Puerto Rico.

Why do you HOLLA? Porque mi cuerpo necesitaba hablar de este tipo de situaciones como parte de un proceso de sanación y reconciliación. La memoria que mi cuerpo ha ido generando a partir de estas situaciones de acoso ha limitado mi manera de transitar en confianza en la ciudad y para sanar tenia que hablar.

What’s your craft? La investigación cultural con un enfoque de género y violencia. Creo que es urgente pensar la violencia rompiendo con algunos prejuicios y categorías que limitan nuestro alcance ante la complejidad de lo vivido.

What was your first experience with street harassment? Creo que a los 12 años. De hecho una de las cosas que más me impresiona sobre este tipo de situaciones de acoso es la manera tan detallada en que el cuerpo recuerda. Recuerdo la ropa que llevaba yo puesta, la sorpresa al recibir ese tipo de acercamiento y la sensación de miedo e inseguridad al enfrentarlo.

Define your style: Me gusta reflexionar desde la experiencia de mi cuerpo sobre la complejidad de un problema político –ético como éste y enfocar la reflexión a la reconciliación con nuestros cuerpos y las maneras en que queremos llevarlos.

Say you’re Queen for the day.  What would you do to end street harassment? Más que tipificarlo como delito, trabajaría con educación ciudadana y violencia de género. Además de generar mayores espacios de encuentro y no aislamiento. No creo que el problema se resuelva a largo plazo dividiendo los lugares en espacios para un género y otros para otro.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Reflexionar sobre la vulnerabilidad como punto de partida ético.

In the year 2020, street harassment … debe ser trabajado desde la gestión publica con mayor seriedad y urgencia.

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Times India Features Hollaback! Chennai

Check out this awesome article published today in the Chennai Times. Reporter Rehna Abdul Kareem investigates Hollaback! Chennai’s bold new venture to stamp out street harassment.

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A Week in Our Shoes: 1/20/22

BY EMILY MAY

Greetings Hollaback supporters and revolutionaries!

This is the third installment of our blog series that keeps you up to date on HOLLAnews and our endeavors to stamp out street harassment. Here’s a glimpse of what happened this week in HOLLAworld.
- We held our first site leader training webinar for our new Hollaback! Leaders in Brussels, Belgium; Edmonton, Canada; Halifax, Nova Scotia, San Fransisco, California; and Portsmouth in the UK.

- Hollaback! Boston attracted the attention of the Jamaica Plain Gazette. Click here to read the article.

- International Movement Co-Ordinator Veronica Pinto, visited the Barnard College Careers fair to represent Hollaback! and scout some new blood for the revolution.

- Lastly, we extend a warm and excited HOLLAwelcome to International Movement intern Natalie and Thought Leadership intern Catherine.

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

HOLLA and out!

Emily

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“Gay Panic” and “Trans Panic”: Not a Worthy Excuse for Murder

Eliminate the 'gay panic' defence from Queensland law #gaypanic

BY VICTORIA TRAVERS

An ambiguity in Queensland law in Australia allows individuals accused of murder to claim a defense known as “gay panic” to avoid prosecution.

Confused? Guffawing slightly because it’s so ridiculous you can’t believe that this is not an elaborate hoax? You are not alone. More infuriating is that the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defense is not an unusual excuse for some of the most horrific crimes in history.

“Gay Panic” is the subject of a recent change.org petition, which relates to a murder that took place two years ago in Queensland. A man was murdered in the grounds of a church and his attackers were acquitted of murder following a “gay panic” plea.

Also referred to as “homosexual panic” and “Kempf’s disease”, the term was first coined by psychiatrist Edward in 1920 to describe a brief psychosis suffered by targets of unwanted gay attention. Luckily and quite rightly, the defense often fails and has been ruled inadmissible in many juristictions because of a complete lack of scientific evidence. Of course there’s a lack of scientific evidence, it’s as ridiculous as dunking a woman in a river to see if she’s a witch.

In a closer look into the history of “gay panic” I was staggered to learn of some of the horrific crimes committed where this defense has lessened prison sentences. In 1995, Jonathan Schmitz was tried for the murdered of friend Scott Amedure, who admitted on “The Jenny Jones Show” that he had romantic feelings for Schmitz. A week after the admission, Schmitz bought a gun, went to Amedure’s home and shot him twice in the chest. Schmitz claimed diminished responsibility citing “gay panic”, claiming that the humiliation and anger provoked by Amedure’s confession drove him to kill. Schmitz was found guilty of second-degree murder. First degree murder is characterized by premeditation, despite taking a week to murder Amedure, Schmitz actions were found to be unplanned.

Then in 2004 “trans panic” was used in the ghastly murder of transgender teenager Gwen Araujo in California. Two of her attackers were convicted of second-degree murder, but not convicted on the requested hate-crime enhancements. The other two men pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Despite being regarded as a “mostly” irrelevant defense it needs to be made simply a prohibited defense.

So do something awesome today to help your fellow man and sign this petition to urge “Queensland parliament and LNP leader Campbell Newman to eliminate this law as a partial defense for murder, and forbid non-violent homosexual advance being treated as evidence in any murder trial.” So far the petition has 21,874 signatures, but they need 25,000. So get clicking HOLLArevolutionaries, let’s reject these archaic values that condone prejudice and violence against LGBTQ individuals.

 

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Dr. Vajayjay’s! Privatize Those Privates!

BY REBECCA KATHERINE HIRSCH

Confused? Excited? Don’t worry. Dr. Vajayjay can fix that.

The New View Campaign has put together a parody training video as part of its Vulvanomics activist event.

In this video, we see an enterprising, unscrupulous, nominal doctor capitalizing on externally-created insecurities, sexualizing genital mutilation and effectively pathologizing female sexuality. His bumbling assistant Steve sees the truth but is powerless to stop the charlatan, money-hungry Dr. Vajayjay. Meanwhile, nameless female prop character is kept in the dark, the pawn in the doctor’s get-rich-quick scheme.

“Dr. Vajayjay does not solve problems; he makes the most of them.”

What most interests me about labiaplasty and “cosmetogynecology” is how easy our contemporary culture makes it for such corporatized quack medicine to succeed: Our puritanical lack of honest, pleasure-based sex education coupled with the preponderance of sexualized advertisements (which rigidly define attractiveness and sexuality in terms of white, nubile teenage girls) makes it easy to manufacture discontent and stigmatize the ignorant masses into believing they’re deficient.

What is normal anyway? Genital diversity, like all manner of physical, racial and gender diversity is sorely lacking in mainstream media. In a rigid, capitalistic-at-all-costs culture, it’s easy to create unnecessary insecurity about what is deemed “normal,” especially when sexuality, women and female genitalia are so regularly and unremarkably criticized and scapegoated. With the help of female genital surgery, “naughty, nasty” vulvas, Dr. Vajayjay purports, can be turned into generic, prepubescent-looking “normal” vulvas, hence instantly achieving for their owners utter sexual, interpersonal, creative and self-actualized happiness. Right?

But doesn’t genital surgery remove sensitive tissue? Aren’t doctors co-opting scientific and feminist language to assume the mantle of legitimacy, then sexing it all up as “what women want”?

Sure they are. Welcome to America!

New View Campaign is a grassroots network that challenges the medicalization of sexuality through song, dance, and— well, mostly the written word and various activist/art projects. Founder Leonore Tiefer was featured widely in the muckraking documentary Orgasm, Inc.

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HOLLAWho? Meet Birmingham.

Meet Zoe, the environmental advocate fighting street harassment in Birmingham, UK.

Why do you HOLLA? I HOLLA because I’m sick of half the population being objectified and harassed in every sphere of their lives. Because street harassment is totally accepted and hardly ever confronted. Because this needs to change!!

What’s your signature Hollaback? Leave me alone. Go away. Ocasionally fuck off – but I wouldn’t recommend this!

What’s your craft? I’m currently working for a small development NGO/charity in Chintsa, South Africa for the next few months – but still running Hollaback Birmingham and will be back! I plan to spend my life working within the women’s rights arena.

HOLLAfact about your city: Birmingham has more canals then Venice! Also despite being the second largest city in the UK, it has no rape crisis center.

What was your first experience with street harassment? Probably when I was about 13 years old walking to the local shop with my friend. A large group of boys, between about 10-20 years old, starting cat calling and shouting: ‘hey gorgeous, oi sexy, suck my cock, come on give me a bit of head, stuck up bitch.’ I just ignored them and walked away quickly. They proceeded to get louder and more abusive, and finally started throwing glass bottles, they all smashed pretty close to us but luckily none of them hit us!

Define your style: I basically dress like I’m constantly at a music festival. Think summery dresses and shorts no matter the weather (just add tights!). I struggle to dress smart and I never wear trousers!

What do you collect? Passport stamps and bunting!

My superheroine power is… surviving on very little money!

Say you’re Queen for the day.  What would you do to end street harassment? I think that the key is education and awareness. I would definitely make feminist issues, including street harassment, part of the curriculum in schools. Boys need to learn from an early age that this is not acceptable and not a route they need to go down to live up ideals about masculinity. Girls need to understand that their value does not lie in their perceived attractiveness and that harassment is not acceptable and never their fault.

In turn, the general public needs to be made aware of what a big problem street harassment is and how it makes women feel. I would start an advert campaign on the T.V, radio, billboards, and every other medium possible to highlight the issue and to open up a dialogue about street harassment.

If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? The world’s resources aren’t infinite and are going to run out. Climate change is real. We need to wake up and realize that we are destroying the planet before it’s too late, and it very nearly is.

In the year 2020, street harassment … will be recognized as a totally unacceptable form of gender based violence.

What inspires you? People who risk their lives and reputation for what they believe in, who fight for an ethical right despite threats, bribes and social/political pressure. Who believe the cause they fight for is more important than their own individual experience. The fact that nothing has ever changed without people taking a personal responsibility to push for it and that we are all capable of making a difference. In the words of Margaret Mead ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change

photoBY VICTORIA TRAVERS

Today we take a moment to commemorate, salute and remember legendary figure of liberty and nonviolent change, Martin Luther King, Jr. All over the world King is hailed as one of civilization’s most significant figures of freedom, justice and equality. Until his death on April 4 1968, King was committed to the fundamental change of America via non-violent activism. Among many of his achievements, in 1964 Martin Luther King, Jr. was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. During his acceptance speech in Oslo he made one of the most powerful and repeated remarks in History:

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”

King’s focus on inspiring nonviolent activism to attain positive social change has inspired millions all over the globe. And we at Hollaback! are particularly inspired by Dr. King’s awesome legacy. King realized that racism, among other contentious issues, in America could not be altered “without radical changes in the structure of our society.” And we at Hollaback! know Street Harassment can only be eradicated with the alteration of deep-rooted social values and norms.

So we look to Dr. King’s Philosophy to strive for social change on the topic of Street Harassment. Dr. King developed this sequential process of peaceful conflict-resolution:

 

1. Information Gathering – The way you determine the facts, the option for change, and the timing of pressure for raising the issue is a collective process.

2. Education – The process for developing articulate leaders, who are knowledgeable about the issues. It is directed toward the community through all forms of media about the real issues and human consequences of an unjust situation.

3. Personal Commitment – Means looking at your internal and external involvement in the nonviolent campaign and preparing yourself for long-term as well as short-term action.

4. Negotiation – Is the art of bringing together your views and those of your opponent to arrive at a just conclusion or clarify the unresolved issues, at which point, the conflict is formalized.

5. Direct Action – Occurs when negotiations have broken down or failed to produce a just response to the contested issues and conditions.

6. Reconciliation – Is the mandatory closing step of a campaign, when the opponents and proponents celebrate the victory and provide joint leadership to implement change.

 

Be inspired. Join the revolution.

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Turkish Gay Honor Killing Drives Inspirational Movie

BY VICTORIA TRAVERS

Turkish film, “Zenne Dancer” or male “belly dancer” in English, has not only received 5 Golden Orange Awards at the International Antalya Film Festival, opened the first gay film festival in the Turkey, but it is the first feature film to depict gay honor killing in Turkey.

The film, which is out on general release in Turkey today, reveals a deep-rooted hysteria in relation to gay, lesbian and transgender persons throughout the country. The creators said that they hoped the film would raise awareness of the issue and force a discussion across Turkey about hate crimes that target gender, religion, sexual identity and ethnicity. Binay told CNN:

“Death and murder is still on the agenda of our country. We can’t get rid of this mentality… People need to tolerate each other. They need to understand that different identities can live next to each other without disturbing each other.”

The film comes at a time when the Turkish Constitution is being rewritten. Currently article 17 of the health regulations of the Turkish Armed Forces states that being gay is a “psychosexual deviance.” LGBT activists are lobbying the Turkish authorities to alter the specifics of the constitution to protect the rights of LGBTQ people.

Check out the trailer here:

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A Week in Our Shoes

BY EMILY MAY

Greetings Hollaback supporters and revolutionaries!

This is the second of a new blog series we are doing to keep you posted on our efforts to end street harassment in the HOLLAworld!  This is of course just a snap-shot from the mothership. If we were going to try to tell you everything happening internationally we’d have no time to get the real work done! So without futher ado, I present to you a week in our shoes.

We kicked off the week with online ideas community and concept platform, IdeaMensch, naming me as one of 33 Entrepreneurs That Make This World a Better Place.  It seems that the world is noticing us and the plight of street harassment! We were selected fromover 600 awe-inspiring people including social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, investors, a soldier, animal rights advocates, and authors. As personally flattering as this is, it wouldn’t possible without our pro-bono lead developer, Jill Dimond (did you know all our tech is done pro-bono? amazing, right?), our 150 site leaders internationally who bring the movement to end street harassment to life, and of course, you and your support.

On Monday afternoon we welcomed three interns from Soapbox’s Feminist Bootcamp, an initiative that provides week-long programs for students and activists. The Soapbox gals took a look at our concept paper for a Hollaback! initiative on college campuses and gave us some helpful feedback. The initiative will pilot this spring and fully launch next fall.  Reach out to me if your school is interested!

On Wednesday I attended a meeting for the Brooklyn Girls Collaborative, an initiative started in 2005 by non-profit organization Girls Incorporated. We were joined by our friends at YWCA, Girls for Gender Equity, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, Center for Anti-Violence Education, among others, and we’re excited to see where the collaboration leads!

Then on Wednesday evening I was honored to speak at The New York City Bar’s Sex and Law Committee Meeting. They invited me to tell them more about Hollaback! and our efforts eradicate street harassment.  We’re grateful for their support and looking forward to collaborating with them!

And just for fun, check out this awesome video that sassily addresses the issue of street harassment by reversing the role of the harassed and the harasser. The video depicts a young man making his way to the bus-stop, his journey punctuated by several encounters with women making unimaginably inappropriate and abusive comments. Thanks to Maria from our site in Mexico for sending it along!

With a week’s worth of revolution behind me, I’m heading to North Carolina this weekend for my family’s annual oyster roast! I plan to quadruple my own bodyweight in oysters with my closest friends, boyfriend, and the pack of amazing women that raised me.

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

HOLLA and out!

Emily

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