A Closer Look at Street Harassment

National Bike Month May 2017

STREET HARASSMENT INFORMATION SHEET

Georgia Bikes believes that all people have the right to use public space without being harassed, whether they are on a bicycle, walking, using a wheelchair, or taking transit.  People may choose to do these activities for transportation, recreation, health or for another purpose; regardless of why, we envision a world where all people can enjoy these activities without fear of being harassed for their gender, sexual orientation, race, clothing, religion, or any other reason. 

For this reason, we wanted to offer resources to community local community organinations and the general public to know what resources were available to assist individuals, organizations, businesses, communities, and municipalities in addressing street harassment.  These rsources include education materials, preventative campaigns, and methods supportive the ending of street harassment.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership says of street harassment, “Everyone deserves opportunities to walk, bike, and be physically active in their community. However, there are barriers to safe walking and biking that go beyond infrastructure and traffic.  Many people, particularly girls and women, people of color, and the LGTBQ community, face aggressive comments, threats, micro-aggressions, and other types of street harassment while walking, biking, and taking transit.”  It has been documented that this halts their participation in active transportation.

Street Harassment does not have an official definition.  The Advocates for Human Rights describes street harassment as “unwelcome or unwanted verbal, non-verbal, physical, or visual conduct based on sex or of a sexual nature which occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person.” 

Important to understand about the Georgia Law, a variety of forms of street harassment are illegal in Georgia, including abusive words, flashing, following, and groping.  HOWEVER, “it is best to be cautious if you choose to confront street harassers (“don’t harass me,” “stop it now”), as Georgia’s law protects individuals that react violently to offensive or abusive language – meaning the law could protect a street harasser who retaliates against you if you use profanity, insults, or other fighting words.”

Examples of Street Harassment includes

  • Sexually explicit, racist, ableist, transphobic, and other derogatory comments
  • Unwelcome comments about your appearance, accent, sexuality, etc.
  • Leering, vulgar gestures, flashing, exposure or genitalia
  • Threatening to remove an article of your clothing (hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women)
  • Claiming you don’t have a right to be in a public space
  • Whistling, barking or kissing noises
  • Sexual touching or groping
  • Public masturbation

In Georgia the following are examples of street harassment in Georgia: Verbal Harassment (disorderly conduct, loitering or prowling, pandering, simple assault), Indecent Exposure (public indecency), Following (stalking or groping), and sexual battery. 

Resources

National Women’s Law Center www.nwlc.org

Advocates for Human Rights www.stopvaw.org

Safe Routes to School National Partnership http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/resources/report/wolf-whistles-creepy-compliments

This link will carry one to three different PDF with the following titles:

Wolf Whistles and Creepy Compliments: How Safe Routes to School Programs Can Take Action to Protect Kids from Street Harassment

Fact Sheet:  Safe Routes to School and Street Harassment

Talking Points on Safe Routes to School and Street Harassment

Green Dot https://www.livethegreendot.com

Green Dot offers content development of programs, strategies, curricula, and training courses and conduct trainings to assist communities and organizations in prevention of violence.  (The definition of violence includes sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, child abuse, elder abuse, and bullying.)

iHeartmob www.iheartmob.org

Heart Mob addresses Online Harassment and offer several guides on their website: Technical Safety Guide, Social Media Safety Guides, Know Your Rights, Supportive Organizations, and Self Care Guides.

Stop Street Harassment www.stopstreetharassment.org

Stop Street Harassment and organization that provides information, research, and readings at both a national and international level defines street harassment

Hollaback www.ihollaback.org

Hollaback! Values education over criminalization, addresses the culture of street harassment, and responses that are specific and tailored to the situation

Articles

An App to Help Women Avoid Street Harassment, Judity Ohikuare, September 13, 2013, The Atlantic.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/09/an-app-to-help-women-avoid-street-harassment/279642/

For more information, you'll find a long form document on our website linked to the education page.