Street Harassment

Definition:

Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment.  It is unwanted interactions in public spaces between strangers that are motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, or gender expression.  Street harassment is the use of power and entitlement by the perpetrator to silence and oppress the victim.

Examples:

 

  • leering, whistling, shouting, catcalling, sexual names, comments, demands

  • sexist, racist, ableist, sizeist, classist, homophobic or transphobic slurs/ language

  • persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after they’ve said no

  • following, flashing, public masturbation, groping, sexual assault, and rape

Statistics:

 

  • 65% of all women had experienced street harassment.

  • Among all women, 23%  had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual.

  • Among men, 25% had been street harassed (a higher percentage of LGBT-identified men than heterosexual men reported this) and their most common form of harassment was homophobic or transphobic slurs (9%).

 

Articles:

 

"Unsafe and Harassed in Public Spaces: A National Street Harassment Report" 

What Victims and Bystanders Can Do

If you feel safe enough to do so, assertively respond to the harasser(s) calmly, firmly, and without insults or personal attacks to let them know that their actions are unwelcome, unacceptable, and wrong.

Hand the harasser information about street harassment. 

Report the harasser to a person of authority (police, transit workers, building security, the harasser's employer if known, etc.)

Intervene when someone else is being harassed to help them out of the situation and let the harasser know that their actions are not condoned by others. Ask the victim if they want help and what they’d like you to do, or simply check in to see if they’re okay.

Raise awareness about street harassment in your community.