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Guest blog: Emily from HollabackNYC

April 30, 2010, 11:03 am — admin (Uncategorized)

The Power to End Street Harassment in the Palm of Your Hand

HollabackNYC started in 2005 the way a lot of good revolutions must begin – as conversations with friends over a couple of drinks. The seven of us commiserated over being whistled at, see cat-called, illness and propositioned, there with each story earning a chorus of “uggg” “ewww” and “gross!”

The trouble was that we felt there was nothing we could do. If we walked on, we felt victimized. If we yelled, we felt angry. Witty comebacks had their charm, but they always came late, and street harassment was more or less protected under laws of free speech. Then we realized – why not take pictures of these street harassers and post them on a blog? And so, with the clink of our cocktail glasses, we launched HollabackNYC, a blog dedicated to giving women an empowered response to street harassment.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to watch the anti-street harassment movement grow worldwide.  Hollaback now has sites in eight cities across the world, with new sites popping up in London and Hong Kong this month.  Hollaback has outgrown its blog status, and in May I’ll become the first executive director.

Over the past five years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about street harassment.  What I’ve learned is that street harassment is on a spectrum of violence against women.  Although it is less intense than other forms, it is oftentimes more pervasive.  Many women report being street harassed three, four, even five times a day.  And unlike many forms of violence against women, street harassment happens in public.  For every woman that is harassed, there is a man watching her.  For every woman that doesn’t speak up, there is a man thinking, well – if she didn’t say anything it must be OK.  And if harassment is OK, then maybe groping is OK.  And if groping is OK, then maybe beating is OK.  And if beating is OK, then maybe rape it OK.  Boys, I’m here to break it to you: violence against women simply isn’t OK.

Ladies, we’ve got to end violence against women were it starts.  I know it’s not always easy to Hollaback and let’s face it: you shouldn’t have to.  You should be able to walk down the street and feel safe, confident, and sexy, without the threat of harassment.   Staying silent is easier, but it doesn’t get us any closer to the world we want to create.

We’re launching a new website and iPhone app so that we can map when and where street harassment happens.  Then we’re going to use that data – which will be the first of its kind – to end it.  We have a hunch that if we can end street harassment, we can put a serious dent in all forms of violence against women.

The women who came before us dramatically decreased harassment in the workplace in the 1980s.  Now, in the 2010’s it’s our turn to decrease harassment on the streets.  Let’s Hollaback now so our daughters don’t have to.

To help make this all possible and to learn more: click here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hollaback/hollaback

Exciting Initiative Part 2

April 16, 2010, 9:00 am — admin (Uncategorized)

Back in December we had Lauren (the organizing intern here @ the Alliance) guest blog about our newest advocacy initiative! (link it: http://www.svfreenyc.org/blog/2009/12/21/exciting-initiative-part-1/)

Well, capsule Lauren is back to give us an update on the project.

Here is the 2nd of Lauren’s guest posts:

Since we launched our citywide advocacy initiative, salve we have recruited some amazing volunteers throughout New York City to participate in the project.  These people are Rape Crisis Advocates, students, activists and members of the community committed to eliminating sexual violence!

After the volunteers participated in a training back in January, I started scheduling meetings with City Council members.  At these meetings, staff from the Alliance was accompanied by various volunteers to speak out about what they have seen as rape crisis advocates, as well as, what they have seen (and not seen) in their communities and schools.  Thank you to everyone who participated in these meetings for your passion, commitment and courage to speak out about sexual violence.

So far, we have met with quite a few Council Members and their staff already.  We have already met with Councilmember Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Seth Barron, Legislative Aide of Councilmember Julissa Ferreras’ Office, Jonathan Chung, Legislative Director of Councilmember Peter Vallone’s Office and CM Crowley.  The commitment and passion that these Council Members and their staff have for their work and to sexual violence initiatives is truly commendable and we are so happy to have the opportunity to collaborate with them!

We have a meeting set up with Councilmember Inez Dickens’ Office and hope to schedule as many as we can before the release of the FY2011 budget.

Another part of the campaign that was just launched this week is the letter writing campaign initiative.  We are reaching out to people to sign on to our petition to urge City Council Members to support funding for the Council’s Sexual Assault and Citywide Initiatives.  The petition can be found here and I urge all of our readers to read it, sign it and forward it to everyone you know.  Sexual Violence is a public health and human rights issue that affects everyone in our community!

If anyone is interested in getting involved or receiving more information, contact lkurtz@svfreenyc.org

Esther Chavez–the Ciudad Juarez activist dies

January 5, 2010, 9:00 am — admin (Uncategorized)

And yet another link to a NYTimes article..this one about the  life of Esther Chavez.

Esther Chavez is best known for bringing international attention to the violence against women that permeated her home Ciudad Juarez. She also founded a shelter for victims of violence, Casa Amiga, to serve the women of the city.

Ciudad Jaurez became famous, or rather, infamous after Chavez helped publicize the fact that starting in the 1990s, over 100 women from the city were  strangled and then dumped  in the desert or vacant lots. Little had been done to stem the tide of violence or bring the perpetrators to justice.

Chavez “worked tirelessly to denounce the decade-long string of killings and to demand that the deaths be properly investigated. Most of the victims were young and many worked at border assembly factories known as maquiladoras.”

I think it’s great that the Times took the time to honor the life and work of Esther Chavez.  It’s pretty incredible to think that  such widespread violence against women was occurring with so little attention, and that one woman was able to impact an entire city.

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Blog posts are the responsibility of their authors, and do not reflect the opinions of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

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