By NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN, age 8
On April 13, 2013, people gathered in Washington Square Park in New York City for International Anti-Street Harassment Week (April 7-13). Stop Street Harassment is a non-profit organization working to end gender-based street harassment throughout the world. They define street harassment as “unwelcome words and actions by unknown persons in public which are motivated by gender and invade a person’s physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary or insulting way.”
According to an online survey of 811 women that was conducted by Stop Street Harassment in 2008, more than 99 percent of respondents had experienced some form of harassment (such as verbal comments, honking, whistling, kissing noises, leering/staring, touching, stalking, attempted or achieved assault, etc) in a public place.
Organizations such as Hollaback!, Girls for Gender Equity, The Feminist Society at New York University, the Center for Anti-Violence Education and RightRides sponsored the rally in an effort to stop street harassment and end violence against women and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) individuals.
The rally, which included speakers and performers, was followed by a chalk walk where participants wrote messages about street harassment on the streets of New York City. Slogans such as, “My name is NOT ‘Hey Baby,’” “Nothing I’m wearing gives you the right to say that” and “You can compliment me by respecting me” were written with colorful chalk on sidewalks and streets to raise awareness about the issue of street harassment.
For more information, you can visit Stop Street Harassment’s website at www.stopstreetharassment.org.