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The State of Our Streets: A Report on Street Harassment in Philadelphia
Prepared by HollabackPHlLLY for Philadelphia City Council’s Public Hearing on Street Harassment

HoIIabackPHILLY Team November 2013

Who Is HoIIabackPHILLY?
HollabackPHlLLY is a branch of the international Hollaback! organization, which is comprised of men and women who believe in building communities where everyone feels comfortable, safe, and respected. Hollaback! currently has 65 active branches operating in nine languages spread out over 6 continents, and it continues to grow rapidly. Using mobile technology, we encourage victims to “hollaback” by reporting their PHILL stories after they are harassed, and bystanders to intervene when faced with unwelcome comments, groping, and more. By collecting victims’ stories and pictures in a safe and shareable way with our very own mobile phone applications, Hollaback! is creating a crowd-sourced initiative to break the silence perpetuating sexual violence internationally. We also hold interviews, school workshops, and various local campaigns for the movement.

What is Street Harassment?
Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. Unlike workplace harassment, which generally invokes the threat of job-related consequences from known actors, street harassment occurs anonymously between strangers. It takes on a harsher tenor, threatening a person for simply appearing in public. It has little to do with sex and everything to do with power.

Why create a survey, or a State of the Streets Report?

HollabackPHlLLY collects stories throughout the year of people’s street harassment experiences within our city, and maps the stories on our website, adding a human element to the otherwise overlooked issue. The prevalence of street harassment, and effects it has on the mobility and access to public space for so many Philadelphians is what motivates our continued work toward ending street harassment.
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Street harassment is often minimized as a “non “Street harassment is so issue”, when it is a reality many women and pervasive and so many LGBTQ folks face on a daily basis. By street people have no idea. I harassment, what stories submitted to our blog regularly describe and accounts shared in our survey reveal is that experiences to family and the most common forms of street harassment are friends (male and female) to staring, leering, and honking at women and spread awareness about what street harassment is.” LGBTQ folks as they’re walking to and from work, _________________________ and whistling at and commenting on their bodies. The minimization of that sort of routine harassment enhances the negative reactions people have when they endure street harassment, because they then feel unsupported in their experience. That minimization also allows the behavior to persist, unchecked and unexamined. The goal of the survey is to illustrate the scope and severity of street harassment and its negative impacts to end the minimization once and for all.

Survey Results
416 Philadelphians responded to the survey between September 9, 2013 and November 1, 2013. The survey was an open, online, self-report survey so, while not scientifically rigorous in methods, is still illustrative of the existence and tenor of Philadelphia’s street harassment problem. For those who think street harassment only applies to certain subgroups of our population, or in certain parts of Philadelphia, we invite you to take a look at where people have reported experiencing street harassment, and who has reported experiencing the harassment.

Who responded to the survey?
Indigenous Person of Color LGB2QQI* Trans* Immigrant/refugee Low Income Newcomer to Philadelphia Other 23 46 82 11 5 50 78 37 7% 25% 3% 2% 15% 23% 11%
Indigenous Person of Color

Trans Imnilgranvrefugee Low Income Newcomer to Phila.. Other 16 32 46 64 80 96

The self-reported gender of respondents
• • • • 85 respondents identified as LGBTQ 364 respondents identified as women 28 respondents identified as men 6 respondents identified as another gender

The age break down of people who had experienced street harassment in the past year was also pretty diverse.
• • • • 27% were between 18 and 23 years old 45% were between 24 and 29 years old 16% were between 30 and 35 years old 12% were over 36 years old.

Where is street harassment happening?
Street harassment is a problem that plagues women and LGBT folks of all ages, all over the world. People generally comment that street harassment only happens in certain areas, and that only certain types of people either engage in Street harassment or are street harassed. One of our strongest motivations in conducting this survey was to dispel some of these common myths around street harassment. Part of that is achieved by illustrating that street harassment happens all over Philadelphia. The below infographic highlights the areas respondents reported experiencing street harassment; every neighborhood mentioned is one in which respondents have been harassed.


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How are we defining Street Harassment?
Staring/Leering Comments on your body Honking Sexist Comments Whistling Kissing noises Aggressive advances Blocking your path Following/Stalking VulgarGestures Homophobic Comments Racist Comments Public masturbation Sexual touching or grabbing 369 339 289 287 278 15% 14% 12% 11% 11%

154 117 132 117 47 55 42 50

6% 5% 5% 5% 2% 2% 2% 2%

“This survey, sadly, made me realize that I have become desensitized to a lot of the harassment I experience and how often; behaviors can become normalized through repetitive exposure, and that CAN be positive, but this instance is not, and I can’t be the only one who has become numb.”

“This is honestly a huge problem and something extremely terrifying when you’re alone; there is no legal action a woman can take and women are made to feel guilty for this happening, or are told that they should be flattered/are overreacting. Men rarely, if ever, acknowledge that this is a behavior which makes a woman afraid for her safety and feel like she is possibly going to be raped or otherwise attacked.”

How often are people beIng harassed?
Daily A few times a week Weekly A few times a month 71 93 70 76 18% 24% 18% 19% Monthly A few times a year Annually Less than once/year 33 44 2 3 8% 11% 1% 1%

How does it make them feel?
The overwhelming feelings in response to street harassment were the negative emotions of being frustrated and angry, followed closely by being fearful of going out alone and feeling humiliated.
Indifferent Frustrated Humiliated Fearful of going.. Fearfu of that a.-. Fearful of taking...

“A woman was being verbally and sexually harassed by three men on the Market-Frankford train. I looked at them and said, “Really?” They tried to brush It off, say it wasn’t anything, so I asked, “What if it was your sister, your mother, your niece?” And then one guy said, “Fair enough”. The other guys Just ignored me.” Frustrated Angry Fearful of going out by myself Humiliated Fearful of that area of the city Fearful of taking public transit Other Indifferent 324 325 198 163 113 101 83 35 24% 24% 15% 12% 8% 8% 6% 3%

Other 0 65 130 195 260 325

“Responding to harassers is something I think about constantly, but I’m really afraid to do so. I’d like to see myself as someone who would intervene for others, but I’m afraid for myself. The harassment is quick, too fast to think of how to react. I’m often so shocked. The effects, however, are much more long lasting. I think about the nasty things men say on the streets of Philly to me long after they have come from their mouths, and I’m disgusted and disappointed with the city I’ve called home. PhiIiy can be, should be, better and safer than this.”

Where are people when they’re being harassed?
Most often, they’re being harassed as they walk around the city, usually to or from work or running errands. So, these negative interactions occupy mental space as the frame for the beginning of their work days, or as they are out and about attempting to be productive while running errands. While Walking On the Way to/from Work While Running Errands SEPTA Subway or Train Car/Station SEPTA Bus/Bus Stop While Exercising Outside While Riding a Bike On the Way to/from School SEPTA Trolley/Trolley Stop 377


286 189 136 136 121 115 63

16% 11% 8% 8% 7% 6% 4%

How are people responding when they’re harassed?
I brushed it off and went about my business. Told a friend/significant other/family member about it later I changed my route and/or final destination I yelled at them I tried to talk to the person about their behavior Other I posted it to HollabackPHlLLY I reported it 310 280 146 144 59 55 29 18 30% 27% 14% 14% 6% 5% 3% 2%

When people are harassed, do they report it? 91% of respondents said they did not report the harassment, some because they
had no idea reporting it was an option, others because no one was around at the time, and even more because they had bad memories of not being supported when they attempted to report in the past.

Are people intervening when they see harassment? “A bystander From re-routing their commute to keep someone company told me he after they were harassed, to shouting at the harasser and has my back interrupting the actual harassment, 90 respondents (22%) if I need it.” described incidents where they intervened, or circumstances in which they always intervene, “On a trolley, woman when they witness someone being street across from me very harassed. Others reported that there were many visibly uncomfortable times they wished they could intervene, but were with the guy who moved fearful if they did that the harassment would be to seat next to her turned on them. While they frequently step up for jumped In to talk to the others, only 35 (8%) had ever experienced guy so she could get out someone else having their back in harassing of there” ___________________________ situations.
______________ -

What is the impact?

We’ve pulled a few quotations (out of dozens that were shared) from the survey of people describing the direct impacts street harassment has had on them. • “I hate that I have to alter my route to avoid certain places. I didn’t say yes the first time, Pm not going to the tenth. It’s absurd.” • “I refuse to be denied access to my own city, my hometown, because I am a woman. Sadly, there have been many occasions where I decided I could not participate in public space, I didn’t want to leave myself, because I knew I would be alone, I would be street harassed, I would be demeaned, humiliated, objectified.” • “I wish as a woman I felt safe intervening when I see someone being harassed, but I’m honestly scared I’ll just turn the negative attention to myself”. • “Changing the societal norm of behavior that those actions are not acceptable.” • “It often feels like the guys who harass don’t want any kind of response from me they just want to prove to me they can target me.” • “I moved away from Philadelphia after a year of living there. This harassment was a big factor in that decision.”

To address street harassment in various public spaces across the city, we recommend:
• Holding community safety audits, a United Nations recognized best practice for assessing the level of safety from gender-based violence in a community. • Connecting existing reporting mechanisms, such as HollabackPHlLLY’s free iPhone & Droid apps, to the city’s informa~onsystemtoalbwforincieasedeaseof i~porhng to local policy makeis1.

To address harassment on public transit and at transit stations, we recommend:
• SEPTA collaboration on HollabackPHlLLY’s Spring 2014 anti-street harassment transit campaign, which will be updated from our successful Spring 2013 advertisement campaign, and include tangible ways that people can safely intervene. • Creation of a public education campaign that visibly lays out existing services and reporting mechanisms through SEPTA. • Increased training for SEPTA Transit Police, drivers, maintenance staff, etc to respond appropriately to incidents of street harassment

It is important to remember that Philadelphia is not alone in its issue with street harassment. Street harassment is a problem felt in urban and suburban spaces across the world. But, through collaboration with public officials and private citizens, it is a problem that can be successfully addressed in our City. Street harassment is not an inevitable part of the culture of Philadelphia. It is not normal and it is not okay. We have the power to end street harassment and the time to end it is now.
“Questions about our NYC app? The FAQ is here.” htty://www ihollaback.ora/blo&2013/O8/22/puestions-about-ojirnyc-app-the-faq-is-here!