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Hollaback! Guide for Employers & Providers on Street Harassment PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 May 2013 23:41

Nonprofit human service workers – and the people they serve – spend a lot of time on the streets of New York.   If they are women or LGBTQ, that often can be a pretty intimidating place to live or work.  Street harassment -- catcalls, wolf-whistles, shouted assessments of their physical attributes or appearance, unsolicited invitations to partake in sexual activity, and even aggressive, unwanted physical contact – is all too common on the streets of New York.   A survey of 110 NYC-based agencies by Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor relations found that 85% of organizations received reports of street harassment from clients and 75% of organizations said that this was a very important issue to clients, consumer and/or staff.

In response, Hollaback!, an organization dedicated to ending street harassment, has released an Employer, Union, and Service Provider’s Guide to Ending Street Harassment.  Written by Deputy Director Debjani Roy, this first ever guide provides information on how organizations can establish best practices to support employees, union members and clients who face street harassment around the workplace. This guide highlights the ways that street harassment 'comes indoors' into work and service provision spaces, and what employers, unions and service providers can do about it.

“Those who face street harassment, similar to those who face other forms of violence including domestic abuse, workplace harassment and sexual assault, can experience feelings of fear, anxiety, stress, sleep disturbance and other effects that can interrupt attendance and productivity at work or inhibit to access services,” writes Roy.  “The phenomena of street harassment, or public sexual harassment, is still under recognized and underreported. Its unique features limit protections provided by existing workplace and other laws.”

Participating organizations identified the use of informal strategies to address the issue of street harassment, including listening (98%) and providing emotional support (88%). Out of these organizations, 92% expressed a need for more resources on street harassment. Suggestions included web-site resources (75%), hard copy resources (69%) and in-person or online trainings (56%).

This guide provides employers, unions and service providers with the following:

  • an understanding of what street harassment is and what it looks like;
  • how it affects employees, union members and clients;
  • what can be done to support an employee, union member or client who has experienced it; and
  • where to refer an employee, union member or client who may need further assistance and support as a result of their experience.

“Street harassment is a frequent, often daily experience of women and LGBTQ individuals across the globe,” says Allison Sesso, Deputy Executive Director of the Human Services Council (HSC) and a Hollaback! Board Member.  “This guide explains how street harassment impacts the workplace and offers tangible solutions for employers.  I know nonprofit and for-profit employers alike will benefit from the guidance provided by Hollaback!”

Click here to download a copy of the Employer, Union, and Service Provider’s Guide to Ending Street Harassment.

Hollaback!, founded in 2005 by seven young adults in New York City, is a movement to end street harassment using on-line technology, mobile devices, on-the-ground activism and organizing. Headquartered in Brooklyn, Hollaback! Is now a global network of activists and leaders in the movement to end street harassment, based in over 60 cities, in 25 countries and in 10 different languages. Through an online platform and Apps on the IPhone and Android platforms, Hollaback! has provided a space for people who experience street harassment to share their stories and their responses to it from anywhere in the world. Each story that is shared on the blog is marked by a pink dot on the map. Hollaback! New York City will also soon release the first ever Smartphone App where individuals facing street harassment can report their stories to their respective council districts and representatives in real time, while simultaneously accessing resources for counseling and other services. The App is called  “Hollaback!” and can be downloaded for free to your Smartphone.

“Street harassment is the final frontier in ending gender based violence and is to this decade what workplace sexual harassment was to the 1980’s and what domestic violence was to the 1970’s – all once considered part of a day in the life of being a woman and in some cases, although in different ways, a part of a day in the life of a LGBTQ identified person,” writes Roy.  “Hollaback! believes that everybody should have the right to feel safe on the streets and in all public and shared spaces, without the fear of being harassed, abused or violated. One of the ways to do this is by responding in any way that feels right to the person being harassed, whether it be by sharing/representing their story on our blog or even responding directly to a harasser, which according to our research can help reduce long term trauma.”

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