“We started because street harassment, particularly of students, is a massive problem in Bangor, and it’s a problem that no one wants to take seriously.” -Jennifer Krase
One of our youngest sites, Hollaback! Gwynedd, launched in April of this year and has already had a significant impact on their community. Gwynedd has already partnered with two student unions, surveyed 400 students about their experiences of street harassment, and met with 40 community leaders, including university boards and local police. This summer, Hollaback! Gwynedd is working on organizing a partnerships meeting with community safety groups in the area, including women’s aid networks and rape crisis centers. In the fall, Gwynedd looks forward to hosting a feminist punk rock concert, and organizing additional events to get first-year students involved in the movement.
“Story sharing is a novelty in Croatia…. We offer innovative ways of activism with our web based approach.” – Barbara Perasović
Harassment of women in Croatia is a widespread phenomenon and has an impact on the lives of many women and LGBTQ people. However, in Croatia, the phenomenon of street harassment is rarely discussed in public discourse or even within women’s nonprofit organizations. Hollaback! Croatia launched in April 2011 with the aim of raising awareness about street harassment and providing an additional space for the empowerment of women. Hollaback! Croatia’s most successful event this year was SlutParty, an event organized in conjunction with Zagreb Pride and leading up to Pride festivities. The main goals of SlutParty were to protest victim blaming, to connect with the local LGBT community, and to highlight the work of SlutWalks around the world. In the next year, Hollaback! Croatia looks forward to analyzing the results of their online survey, which was the first ever to explore the incidence and consequences of street harassment in Croatia. Hollaback! Croatia also plans to expand their anti-street harassment workshops into local schools.
“Now I have a worldwide community of people whom I not only feel get me, but whom I completely respect, can laugh with, can lament with, and with whom I can enjoy the beauty of unequivocal and mutual support in daily life and activism. “ – Gail Whitmore
After her relocation to the Czech Republic due in part to her negative experiences with street harassment in New York, Gail Whitmore was “simply overjoyed” to join Hollaback! While it is a challenge running the organization as a non-native, Gail explains that “safety, respect, equality, self-esteem and an overall sense of happiness have less to do with the policies of the United States than with the basic tenets of humanity.”
HollaBack! Czech / Ozvi se! participated in a wide variety of events this year, including a V-Day production of “The Vagina Monologues” with 71 volunteers from 11 different countries! In addition HollaBack! Czech / Ozvi se! was active in Prague Pride, delivered a workshop for Queer*Fem Days in Sankt Poelten, Austria and represented at the European Parliament in Brussels alongside three other HollaBack! sites to try and further the cause of ending gender-based violence. HollaBack! Czech / Ozvi se! was also honored to be a recipient of a grant of $1,000 from Worldwide Visionaries to use towards strengthening the visibility of their site and the volume of their voice. In the next year, HollaBack! Czech / Ozvi se! is focused on building its relationships with Czech NGOs in order to take the safety of all people in public spaces to the next level.
“Street harassment is something that has plagued me for my entire adult life…. I wanted to start up a Hollaback! site here to work towards the goal of eradicating street harassment in my own city, as well as to contribute to a global culture which does not accept street harassment.” – Kira Poirier
Site Leaders Kira and Nadia got involved with Hollaback! in hopes of starting a discussion about street harassment in Montreal, and they have been ecstatic about how much progress their site has made in such a short time. One of their main focuses in the past year has been to expand the bilingualism of the site, in order to reach both French and English speakers in Montreal. The site’s most successful events have been movie screenings followed by open forum discussions. Kira reports: “[The event] was quite a success and [we had] a very interesting and insightful discussion on individual experiences of street harassment and strategies on how to best deal with it.” In the long term, Hollaback! Montreal hopes to use Hollaback!’s maps of where the harassment is occurring to allocate resources to the most affected communities. Hollaback! Montreal also hopes to strengthen ties with feminist and LGBTQ organizations, while building on their relationship with their local university’s social justice community.
“My whole life I’ve been subjected to harassment and abuse in public settings, and before I read about Hollaback, I never really talked about it with anyone… It takes a lot of courage to face stories of mental and physical street harassment, but it’s the first step in healing and taking control of situations in the future.” – Luci Cook
Luci Cook was inspired when she learned about Hollaback! through the website Feministing. “When I read that article, a rush of legitimization and understanding came to me and I knew I had to be a part of it… that’s when I learned that I could start my very own Hollaback! in my small town of Columbia, Missouri,” Luci explains. Luci has partnered with University of Missouri’s Women’s Center to host a variety of events and to collaborate with the University’s bystander intervention program. Luci has already conducted analysis on the stories her site receives, including information on where the most harassment takes place and what type of harassment is most common, and she plans to use the results of her research to raise awareness about street harassment in her community. In the next year, Hollaback! CoMo looks forward to fostering more relationships with community organizations.
Coming home from work, a man nearly hit me coming into my lane. To alert him of this, I honked. In retaliation, he thought following me was a good idea. He followed me for 30 minutes, including waiting around the corner out of sight while I deposited a check at the bank, which took nearly 10. Then he circled highway patrol when I ran in to get help. I’m unsure if they caught them. What’s worse is the highway patrol was unhelpful and dismissive until I told them my father was a police officer.
I had just walked out of a club and was helping out my drunk guy friend that I was with when a couple of men started yelling over at me to come over by them. So I ignore it and kept walking and unfortunately had to walk by them to get to my car, so they started making fun of how drunk my friend was and whistling at me. They made a few other crude remarks i cant remember exactly. Something about my ass i believe. It was so inappropriate.
Trying to decide which chips or crackers to buy. Someone grabbed my side and ran his hand down the small of my back and started suggesting certain type of crackers. GROSS DISRESPECTFUL!! This is why I hate goin in public place anywhere alone.
“I see the reports of the terrible things women and LGBTQ people such as myself go through every time we go out on the street, and being part of the Hollaback! team gives me an outlet to the rage and helplessness I feel when reading these stories. I’m not helpless anymore. I can do something to bring more good to the streets of my country.” -Maital Rozenboim
Hollaback! Israel is currently involved in a joint project with the Israeli Association of Hotlines for Sexual Assault Victims to raise awareness about the broad spectrum of sexual violence, and to point out the way street harassment is often a gateway crime that creates a culture in which other forms of sexual violence are tolerated. Site Leader Maital notes that Hollaback! Israel’s greatest accomplishment has been to gain credibility even in the orthodox community where the word “feminist,” is frowned upon, and homosexuality is still, albeit in name only, punishable by death. Maital explains, “In short, we’ve become mainstream… We’re making a difference in the public discourse in Israel, and that’s probably the best thing we can possibly do.”
“I experienced a lot of street harassment over the years and one day I finally had enough. I knew I had to do something about it and I came across Hollaback!. I had just quit my job and I really wanted to put my energy into something I believed in and I started the Chandigarh chapter.” – Rubina Singh
When Rubina began organizing as the site leader for Hollaback! Chandigarh, street harassment was not often discussed or taken seriously. Despite this challenge, the site has been well received by the community, has gained press coverage and has garnered increased overall support. Most importantly, people have been sharing their stories and breaking the silence on street harassment in Chandigarh. In addition to a variety of community events and film screenings, Hollaback! Chandigarh participated in Punjab Engineering College’s annual festival, an event which the entire college attended. Rubina is especially excited about the potential for Hollaback! Chandigarh’s LGBTQ focused efforts, as Chandigarh is a very conservative city and Hollaback! is currently the only organization dealing openly with LGBTQ rights.