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Welcome Hollaback! to Nottingham

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Hollaback! Nottingham, street harassment, women's rights, public spacesImagine a world where street harassment is not tolerated, where we all enjoy equal access to public spaces.

Hollaback! is a movement set up to end street harassment. It is powered by a network of local activists around the world.

The idea is that the groups work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces.

Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against.

Comments, groping, flashing and assault are a daily, global reality for women and LGBTQ individuals, but they are rarely reported, and are far too often culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman or for being gay.

At Hollaback! is having none of this.

Hollaback! works on the assumption that everyone has a right to feel safe and confident and not be objectified, and that sexual harassment is a gateway crime that creates a cultural environment that makes gender-based violence OK.

There is a clear legal framework to reproach sexual harassment and abuse in the home and at work, but when it comes to the streets, pretty much all bets are off.

This gap is not because street harassment hurts any less, it is because there has not been any solution.

Until now.

The explosion of mobile technology has given us an unprecedented opportunity to end street harassment – and with it, the opportunity to take on one of the final new frontiers for women’s rights around the world.

And by collecting stories and pictures in a safe and share-able way with its very own mobile phone applications, Hollaback! has created a crowd-sourced initiative step to ending street harassment.

At the core of the Hollaback! model lies the belief that movements start with people telling their stories – and they succeed with people taking action.

Before the Internet age, there was only one mic, one podium, one speaker. But now, thanks to the proliferation of blogging and social media, it is no longer the loudest, wealthiest and most powerful who rule the airwaves: anyone with access to their local library’s internet portal can have a voice. So Hollaback! has leveraged technology to bring voice to an issue that historically has been silenced, and to build leadership within this movement to break the silence.

Hollaback! works with women, girls, and LGBTQ individuals to document in words and pictures, and to literally indicate, on a map, where they experienced harassment in public spaces.

The collected and mapped data is then presented to elected officials and policymakers in areas experiencing high incidences of street harassment and legislators can thus work with Hollaback!-trained leaders to address street harassment in their communities.

This provides a forum for individuals to share their experiences and brings attention to this long-ignored issue.

Hollaback! Nottingham celebrated its launch recently with a community event of activism, art, food and music.

One group of girls aged between 11 – 14, who were passing the launch event, had not heard of street harassment.

When they were told Hollaback! defines street harassment as behaviour such as whistling, staring, groping, comments based on your gender, they knew about that: one of the girls said, “REALLY!? I hate that.

“It happens all the time when I am walking down the street.

“It happened today – we got shouted at by men in a van.”

Site leader, Rose Ashurst, said that she wants the group to demonstrate how street harassment can be stopped from happening – to yourself and others.

“Hollaback was launched in New York in 2005 and it’s taken almost 10 years to get here.

“The reason I started it in Nottingham is because I went out on a night out and was dancing.

“Someone groped me, and I asked them what they were doing, but they continued … I don’t want other people to experience that.

“If you have experienced street harassment yourself it’s very personal, and it’s a gateway into looking at gender equality.

“It’s not a compliment and it’s not a joke,” she pointed out.

Hollaback! breaks the silence that has perpetuated sexual violence around the world, asserts that any and all gender-based violence is unacceptable, and creates a world where we have an option – and, more importantly – a response.

  1. Pleased to see that Nottingham Hollaback is going strong as I recently heard from some female students what a pernicious and everyday problem it is for them even from fellow students.

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