04 October 2010

Been Harassed? It's Time to Hollaback! [video]

One Ms. Foundation grantee has been getting great press recently for their work using mobile technology to fight sexual harassment.

Hollaback! is an organization that rejects the notion that catcalls and other types of verbal and physical harassment are just the "price you pay" for being a woman in this world. Using mobile technology -- i.e., stories, pictures and videos from your smart phone, uploaded to local sites -- their goal is to create a "crowd sourced initiative" that will end street harassment for good, and make the world safer for all of us to walk in.

From the Hollaback website:
We believe that everyone has a right to feel safe and confident without being objectified. Sexual harassment is a gateway crime, and creates a culture that makes violence against women OK. There is a clear legal framework to reproach sexual harassment in the home or at work, but when it comes to the streets – all bets are off. This gap isn’t because street harassment hurts any less, it’s because there hasn’t been a solution. Until now.
So how does it work? The concept is simple: rather than suffering in silence when unwanted sexual comments come your way in public, Hollaback gives you the platform to share those experiences with others -- pushing back against what Hollaback calls "one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence." At the moment, you can do this either by visiting their website and sharing your story in writing, or by texting your story/images from your phone to holla@ihollaback.org; if you include a location, the team at Hollaback can add it to a map that is tracking incidences of street harassment nationwide. Soon there will be iPhone and Droid apps released that will streamline posting content from your phone.

It's an innovation whose time has come -- and the Ms. Foundation is exceptionally proud to have been an early funder of this project, which started in New York in 2005 and now has local sites in numerous cities across the US and around the world. “Hollaback represents a great example of young people coming together in creative ways to challenge one of the most culturally accepted forms of gender-based violence,” says Ms. Foundation Senior Program Officer Monique Hoeflinger. We're thrilled to see media outlets from McSweeney's to The Independent to TechEye to the New York Daily News picking up on the group's excellent work and spreading the word far and wide.

Given that it's Domestic Violence Awareness month, this would be a great time to pledge to take action to end gender-based violence of all kinds. Check out Hollaback's website for your city, and watch the video below to learn more about why it's important to hollaback. Help break the silence that keeps street harassment alive and kicking.

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