Anti-Street Harassment Organizers Prep for a Global Cause

By Maggie Freleng

Sunday marks the fourth annual International Anti-Street Harassment Week, which draws attention to the rising problem of street harassment. 

Holly Kearl, author of two books on the subject and the founder of Stop Street Harassment, will kick off the week this Sunday with a Google Hangout co-hosted by The Pixel Project, from 8:30am-10:30a.m. EST. Kearl will do a Q&A, and talk about street harassment and what necessary steps to take to end this rampant problem.

"What could be more basic than the right to walk down one’s street safely, without facing harassment?" Kearl said in a statement. "For too many people – especially women and all members of the LGBQT community – this is a right they are routinely denied because of street harassment, or the threat of it."

Street harassment is the most common form of violence against women and one of the most detrimental – forcing some people to avoid public spaces because fear of harassment and/or violence.

In recent years, more organizations have stepped up efforts to educate people about their rights and how to end street harassment. Just recently on International Human Rights Day, Stop Street Harassment released their "Know Your Rights" toolkit, a state-by-state guide to harassment laws. A few months before, Hollaback! held the first ever street harassment conference in New York, with the hopes that with more solidarity and information, organizers and advocates can have action steps for how to reduce harassment.

The International Anti-Street Harassment Week events aim to do just that.

"An important first step to end street harassment is for people to share their stories and show why this issue matters," Kearl told VITAMIN W.

This week, at least 150 groups in 23 countries will participate in a series of events, from March 30 – April 5.

Events in the U.S. include film screenings, chalk walks, open mics, international wheat pasting night of the now famous "Stop Telling Women to Smile" art, and Take Back the Night marches.

If you can’t attend live events, at least six Tweet Chats will be held using the hashtag #EndSH.

"I hope that tens of thousands of people will take that step during International Anti-Street Harassment Week and share their stories, be it online, at an event or rally, or with a friend or family member," Kearl told VITAMIN W. "Our collective stories can make a difference." 

Maggie Freleng is a Brooklyn-based journalist and photographer focusing on social justice, women's issues, gender, and sexuality. Follow her on Twitter @dixiy89.
Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr/Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)