For most women and LGBT individuals, street harassment is a frequent – if not daily – occurrence. And sometimes, what’s worse than the harassment itself is that people turn a blind eye to it, or even try to justify it. We’re told that harassment is a compliment. Being followed, threatened, told to smile, or being on the receiving end of unwanted sexual comments isn’t a compliment. It’s unacceptable.
Fortunately, more and more people are standing up to street harassment by sharing their stories and talking back to their harassers. But each year, there’s an entire week dedicated to raising awareness of street harassment and putting an end to it. International Anti-Street Harassment Week is a project of Stop Street Harassment, in collaboration with dozens of co-sponsors including Hollaback!. The 2014 edition is coming up from March 30 to April 5.
This year, Stop Telling Women to Smile is a primary co-sponsor of the week. Stop Telling Women to Smile was founded by artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, who creates drawn portraits of women with captions that speak directly to harassers, like “stop telling women to smile” and “my name is not baby.” This year, participants in Anti-Street Harassment Week can download PDFs of the famous posters to hang them in their own communities.
Anti-Street Harassment Week partner organizations have put together events across the country and around the world. For my fellow New Yorkers, there will be an anti-street harassment rally in New York City on Saturday, April 5. Visit the Meet Us On The Street website to find an event near you.
You can even get involved without leaving your bed: there will be a Google+ hangout discussion on street harassment on March 30, and six tweet chats will be held throughout the week on various topics relating to street harassment. There are also plenty of ways you can contribute outside of these events. Meet Us On The Street has a list of ideas for action, including sidewalk chalking, sharing your stories with someone (anyone!), and raising awareness via social media.
Also new this year: Anti-Street Harassment Week participants are encouraged to try out the new, free smartphone app Safetipin, which crowdsources information about the safety of public spaces by allowing users submit reports of harassment.