Hollaback App Helps Victims Tell the Mayor About Street Harassment

963d1146896ca71f3182915c08313894For New York women tired of being cat-called and harassed in the street, there may be  a new solution. Speaker of the New York City Council (and mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn has partnered with Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment group, to create a smartphone app that would allow women to report incidents of street harassment directly to the mayor’s office. According to Quinn, the app will use the data it’s given to create a map to show areas where women are more likely to be harassed. So far, the areas with the most reported harassments are lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn. Quinn said

We’re here today to let New Yorkers—and particularly women and girls—know that people who violate women either by their actions or words won’t be able to hide anymore. We will know who they are, what they do, where they do it, and we will put it to an end.

An earlier version of the app only collected information about whether or not harassment occurred but not where it occurred. With the old app, users would have to file a formal complaint to the mayor’s office. Emily May, Hollaback!’s executive director, said

As recently as yesterday, if you wanted to report harassment in New York City, it would have taken you hours to file the complaint. With many people getting harassed as often as three or four times a day, reporting harassment could quickly turn into a full time job.

While women everywhere have to deal with street harassment, it is a particularly large problem in New York City. A study sponsored by Hollaback! found that 86 percent of women had been harassed on the street in the city over the last two years.

By making it easier for those affected to report street harassment straight to governmental officials without having to fill out mountains of paperwork, Hollaback! and Quinn are helping to remove the stigma of being harassed. Hopefully, city councilpersons and mayors in other major cities will catch on and help their citizens avoid being harassed.

Picture from Hollaback!’s official Twitter page

Comments

  1. I would be more comfortable with this if stop and frisk wasn’t such an issue in New York, let alone long standing issues of inequality and police targeting. Will women of color feel comfortable reporting harassment if that could increase police attention and cause more hardship for their community? It’s possible to imagine someone’s reporting of street harassment could lead to an increase in attention that would actually cause themselves to be frisked!

    I wish this blog post had at least acknowledged this could be an issue or spoken to women that might be concerned or acknowledged this could be an intersectional issue. I feel like it’s critical to acknowledge intersectionality with something like this even if there isn’t much space or time (or maybe you know there’s a more detailed article coming, but I don’t). The issues of intersectionality are not new, but they are certainly current and need to be incorporated as an ongoing consciousness.

  2. Does anyone else think this is just pandering to voters? I don’t appreciate cat-calls but it is by no means illegal. Escalation of cat-calls easily can be.

    Still, I think it’s fruitless, pointless, and silly to waste resources and money for “crimes” (I don’t believe whistling or say “hey baby” can or should be illegal) that will never be solved and shouldn’t be prosecuted.

    At simplest terms Quinn speaks of “putting to an end” to this? Seriously?! You what, are going to arrest every guy who freely utilizes his free speech? No. Stop lying, Quinn.

    I know people might say “well, verbal harassment is harassment” or “this might lead to violent crime” but let’s just all accept that hollering, hooting, and whistling is not illegal and shouldn’t be. I hope resources are better spent elsewhere.

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