A global "know your rights" guide to street harassment

by TrustLaw
Tuesday, 2 September 2014 13:42 GMT

Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated. According to research by Stop Street Harrassment, 80-90% of women have been harassed in public. The streets we walk on every day remain one of the final frontiers in affirming basic civil rights.

“Women and LGBTQ folks around the world suffer from street harassment every day. They experience long-term impacts including anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. They have little or no legal recourse, despite widespread laws that prohibit street harassment in most countries,” said Emily May, Executive Director and Co-founder of Hollaback!

“Last spring, I had a dream. I thought, what if every site, in every country in which we operate, knew their rights when they were harassed? But when I put that dream into logistics, I realized it would be nearly impossible to compile,” Emily added. “Twelve languages, 22 counties, and several law firms. We’d need the laws translated into English and then back into local languages.  We’d have to find a budget bigger than our own to pay them, and coordination would be a complete nightmare. “

Through TrustLaw, Emily’s dream became a reality. TrustLaw connected Hollaback! with DLA Piper and seven other legal teams around the world (Divjak, Topic & Bahtijarevic Law Firm; RBS; Norton Rose Fulbright; Yigal Arnon & Co; HP; Neupane Law Associates; and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP) to conduct pro bono research on local laws for street harassment. The research was used to develop a global “Know Your Rights” Guide for victims of sexual harassment around the world to know and better understand their rights. 

“Information is power,” Emily said. “I predict the impact on our work to be tremendous.”

June 2015 update: Hollaback affiliates in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Croatia and the USA are now using the guide for training and as a resource. Hollaback NYC also used the guide to train rookie NYC police department officers.

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