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BY OLINDA HASSAN
“Eve teasing”, or sexual harassment is problematic in Bangladesh, especially when we want to talk openly about the aggression South Asian women face day to day on the streets. The phrase has a biblical link- it refers to Eve, the tempting, beautiful woman who inevitably attracts attention from men. So, while “eve teasing” in South Asia refers to the day to day sexual harassment that women face, whether it’s an unwanted touch from a passerby or a cat call from the boys in the corner, the phrase itself blames women, she is tempting, men can’t help it.
Bangladesh’s high courts recently stated that the term “eve teasing” downplays the serious nature of the harassment that women in the country face in their day to day movement. I have seen and experienced my share of eve teasing. I have watched a store clerk eye a girl half his age’s chest and ask her to bring her assets to the store as her mother walked right beside her. This is not something to be ignored, neither should we blame the girl, who could not have been more than 13 years old. The high courts have made this clear, let’s not call this “eve teasing”, let’s use the correct term, sexual harassment.
So how important are words when we talk about these kinds of crimes? When I interviewed several male students at Dhaka University for an opinion-project last year, I was surprised to hear a few of them say that girls are asking for it, even at a time when sexual harassment has been making headlines in Bangladeshi media. Alam, a 20-year old History student said, “What am I supposed to do, when the girl is wearing such a tightly fitted kameez [the traditional dress worn in Bangladesh]? She is at a University, she should be dressing appropriately. I can’t help but look and tell my friends, and try to get her attention when I am bored.” He went on to tell me how girls know that they are going to get attention, so they should protect themselves by dressing accordingly, rather than “complaining” about getting harassed.
In an increasingly globalized world, I particularly enjoy watching girls in Bangladesh dress the way they want and not follow social norms in their clothing. I think that fashion holds a unique story telling power. So why should women have to dress in a way that makes them less vulnerable? Is she taking on the role of Eve when she wears clothes that could, potentially, tempt men? Or is she simply exerting her independence and her right to be who she wants to be on the streets?
Women don’t get harassed on the streets just because of what they wear in Dhaka. Men in Dhaka have basically been allowed to harass women because they were never caught and punished, until now that specific laws have made it a crime. Dhaka’s streets, once dominated by men, are beginning to change as more women are taking on professional roles. Women are increasingly getting educated at one of the highest rates for a developing country. Bangladesh has several female political heads, including its Prime Minister. It is one of the most liberal Muslim-dominated countries in the world. Nevertheless, a patriarchal culture still exists.
Referring back to the notion of words, how important is it to make sure that we use the right words when we talk about violence against women? I followed up with Alam and asked what he thought about sexual harassment against his female peers that take place regularly in Dhaka University. Alam hesitated and said that what his friends did, the cat calling, and sometimes following women was not sexual, or harassment. Then, I asked what he thought about “eve teasing”, to which he responded that it was all innocent and fun.
Calling sexual harassment “eve teasing” makes the aggravation seem harmless and amusing against victims who are purposefully tempting. How do you make a society start saying “sexual harassment” where the culture never really talks about sex and sexual behavior openly? And an even bigger question is, how do you convince a society that victims are not purposefully tempting perpetrators, that men don’t harass women because they are asking for it? Although it may seem like a mountain to climb, there is an answer – education as education fosters change. Both men and women need to be educated about exactly what constitutes sexual harassment, the impact of it, what is acceptable and what is not, only then can we move forward.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Yesterday, on the 13th International Transgender Day of Remembrance, we spared a quiet moment to not only mourn the loss of murdered transgender individuals but to raise awareness of the daily dangers and struggles faced by transgender people all over the world. This annual event began 13 years ago following the brutal stabbing and still unsolved murder of vivacious Rita Hester.
The Huffington Post published a wonderful article entitled “Transgender day of Remembrance: 20 Trans Pioneers” celebrating 20 inspirational and trailblazing transgender men and women that have fought their way into the public domain to raise awareness and give the transgender community a voice.
The article includes a slide show of 20 awe-inspiring men and women including college basketball player Kye Allums, “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Isis, actress Candis Cayne, Marci Bowers M.D and “DWTS” Chaz Bono. Their unique stories are testament to the fact that change is possible when you have a voice and you use it.
Here’s two examples to get you started!
The amazing Kye Allums, the first transgender student basketball player.
Gender reassignment surgeon extraordinaire Marci Bowers M.D.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
According to the GLAAD website at least one transgender person is murdered and several more assaulted every month, with 55% of transgender youth having reported being physically attacked. It is also even more saddening to learn that over 50% of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have attempted suicide.
So HollaPeople, in light of these terrible statistics you need to listen up because I am about to hit you with some very important knowledge. After reading a Huffington Post article entitled “Transgender or Transgendered” and having had my own quiet moment on Sunday for Transgender day of Remembrance, I came to realize the impact of the words we use to talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and issues. With the help of the GLAAD website I have been enlightened as to how the wrong words can alienate and hurt and how the right words can educate and create inclusiveness.
Although it may seem like only a slight difference between “trangendered” and “transgender” the terms are a world apart in their connotations.
Firstly, the correct term is “transgender” used as an adjective. For example, you can refer to an individual as a “transgender person” or a “transgender advocate,” vocabulary to avoid would be “transgendered” as this implies a condition. It is important that the word “transgender” is always used as an adjective and not a noun, so do not call anyone “a transgender” or refer transgender people as a whole as “transgenders.” Also absolutely, always do not use tranny, trannie, she-male, he-she, it or shim, these are not cool and very offensive!
GLAAD has a wonderfully enlightening website with lots of transgender resources to help make our world more inclusive and accepting.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Have a good look at this dumb-ass, waste of skin caught on CCTV having groped a woman as she was boarding the M train at Broadway-Lafayette on the morning of November 10.
The perpetrator is said to be a 35-year-old man with a large build, carrying an iPad and wearing a backpack. After the assault, he fled the scene, but was not clever enough to avoid the subway security camera.
So look closely at the picture and help the police apprehend this degenerate so we can teach him to respect others and keep his grubby paws to himself. If you recognize this man or have any other information please call the NYPD Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or log onto the Crime Stoppers Website www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
Occupy Denver has now joined numerous other organizations standing in unity with Hollaback! and those working on the ground at Occupy to allow everyone to feel safe and confident in occupied spaces.
The news comes following numerous complaints across the U.S about harassment at the Occupy movements. In Occupy Denver alone there have been reports of harassment and sexual assault, including the sexual assault of a 14-year-old runaway girl, who remains in hospital.
For women and LGBTQ people to participate equally in the Occupy movement, we must be safe in occupied spaces. We know that harassment and assault happens everywhere — and that the Occupy movement is no more immune to it than our nation’s parks and parking lots — but we also know that a movement where women and LGBTQ individuals are not safe is not a movement that serves the interests of the 99%.
In solidarity with those who are already working on the ground to make safer spaces, we call on all General Assemblies of the Occupy movement to adopt anti-harassment and anti-assault as core principles of solidarity. To realize these principles within the movement, we call on General Assemblies in every city to empower women and LGBTQ occupiers with the time, space, and resources necessary to ensure that every occupied space is a safe space.
If your organization supports this call for safer spaces, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list of co-signers. If you know other groups that have not yet joined this call to action, please contact them and ask them to stand with us! Let’s work together to make a safer world for everyone!
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Hollallujah for a new bill that will protect Massachusetts Transgender people from prejudice and hate crimes! The state Senate followed the House on Wednesday morning in passing a transgender civil rights bill. Governor Deval Patrick is set to sign the bill, but when exactly is not yet certain. This would make Massachusetts the 16th state to treat transgender people as a protected class. May the domino effect continue!
According to co-sponsor of the bill and state Representative Carl Sciortino Jr. “Transgender people individuals in Massachusetts face unacceptably high levels of violence and discrimination in their daily lives… This bill will extend our statutory rights and hate crimes protections to the transgender community.”
In a study conducted by the Williams Institute in April 2011, approximately 33,000 people in Massachusetts identify themselves as transgender. And according to a National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce 2009 survey 97 percent of transgender individuals reported that they were harassed or mistreated at work, with 47 percent of people complaining that they had been either denied a job or sacked for identifying as transgender.
This awesome news comes amidst Transgender Awareness Week, which will come to a close on November 20th with Transgender Day of Remembrance, a memorial to victims of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
On December 5th our very own Hollaback! Executive Director, Emily May will join the Chair of the National Organization for Women Young Feminist Task Force, Jerin Afria; Coordinator of Community Violence Prevention at the Center for Anti-Violence Education, Susan Moesker; and New York City Council member Manhattan District 5, Jessica Lappin, to discuss and advise on how to combat gender violence on New York’s subways and public spaces.
This exclusive event will begin at 7pm on Monday December 5 at Hunter College, Lexington Avenue at 68th.
Talking Back is sponsored by Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition; Manhattan Young Democrats Transportation and Women’s Issues Committee; New Yorkers for Safe Transit; Hollaback!; and the National Organization for Women.
Be a change-maker, Hollaback! and join the conversation!
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.
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.
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
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.