A couple of months ago, I reported on a project by two SFU students which encourages TransLink riders to share their stories of gender-based harassment on the transit system. The Harassment on TransLink website ended up getting a lot of media coverage and hopefully raised awareness of this ongoing problem.
Now, there's a new site taking on harassment against women and LGBTQ people in public spaces. Hollaback Vancouver is part of an international network of sites "dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology".
There are Hollaback sites in over 70 cities in more than 20 countries. In Canada, Hollaback is already in Alberta, Halifax, Hamilton, Montreal, Niagara, Ottawa, Toronto, Victoria, and Winnipeg.
Vancouver's site, run by local activists, started posting stories in November. One story, attributed to "KT", reads:
It was a summer evening and I was walking to meet friends out for a few social drinks and an evening of music for a fundraiser. Once I hit Broadway, a man started talking to me and walking along side me. At first his conversation was non threatening and I wasn’t bothered by his presence as there were people out everywhere. He asked if I just finished work, where I work and started guessing my profession. Nurse was his first guess, by this time I was no longer carrying a conversation and had spotted a friend ahead. By the time I got to my friend, the street harasser was into a detailed description of me being a stripper for a living….WOW…talk about awkward! Still to this day I am reluctant to walk by myself, even with people lining the street.
Stories and photos of street harassment—those you've experienced or witnessed—can be submitted to Hollaback Vancouver using an online form. The site divides harassment into the following categories: assault, groping, homophobic, racist, stalking, transphobic, verbal, and other.
The idea is to show solidarity with folks who have been harassed, and to provide proof of the problem and hopefully get a response from governments. "We envision a world where street harassment is not tolerated and where we all enjoy equal access to public spaces," the Hollaback site states.