Here we are at our last #transittuesday of the Summer (*tear). To be honest, the theme scribbled beside this Tuesday is “Back to School.” It seems we were going to recap the various things about harassment and transit that we have talked about this summer and see how we can apply them to the school year. That was the plan . But last week, one woman’s experience of harassment on transit went very public – and being that we are an organization whose mandate is to tackle street harassment … it’s kept us very busy.
This week we are going to try to avoid the negative aspects of this story and focus on some positive things, in an attempt to close out a Summer of Transit Tuesdays with a renewed commitment to ending street harassment on our commute. So what good can we take away from this unacceptable incident of harassment on transit?
Someone directly intervened. Granted it was a full bus and he was the only one stepping up, physically putting yourself between the harasser delivers a strong message that the behavior needs to stop. Not everyone is that brave however, and that’s OK. The 4 D’s we are always referring to outline other ways a person can do something when harassment like this is taking place. Someone could have initiated a distraction, someone could have delegated the intervention over to Metro Vancouver Transit Police by texting 87 77 77. Imagine if even half of the people on the bus that day did SOMETHING? If you want to gain more confidence in your ability to intervene- email us ( [email protected]) and ask about attending one of our community workshops.
“I shouldn’t have to change what I wear, or where I go because someone feels entitled to comment on me or my body.” In her statement about the experience, Chantal furthers this very important point:
I’m not even going to write down what I was wearing because it doesn’t matter. But people should be able to wear whatever they want and feel safe going out. Other people should not feel that they have the power to comment on my body or what I wear because it is my decision no matter what. If my body or my dress is offending you then please don’t look, or take your opinion elsewhere.
Preach! Everyone has the right to move about their city free of harassment. Enough said.
Investigations are being launched. Hollaback! Vancouver joined forces with Metro Vancouver Transit Police back in April as we were encouraged that they were taking the issue of harassment on transit seriously. It is encouraging to see that the suspect is being sought, and that conversations about how drivers can keep both their riders and themselves safe are happening.
Text reporting is in the spotlight. Texting all the details of the situation to Metro Vancouver Transit Police at 87 77 77 is so easy. Its such a great tool for intervening. A lot of people in Vancouver didn’t even know about it until this incident. Hopefully now more people do. We encourage folks to save the number in their phone for easy access in (non emergency) situations like this. Learn more about this great safety feature here!
Stories are powerful. Hollaback! was started out of a desire to give people who experience harassment a platform to speak up. Sharing an experience of harassment challenges the narrative that street harassment is a normal part of being a woman (or other subjugated group) moving about in public space. Speaking up can be hard – we thank Chantal for her bravery in taking her experience public. Today, a new version of our app was released on iTunes. It makes it easy and fast to tell Vancouver where and how you experienced harassment.
We want to know how you plan to join us in our work to eliminate street harassment. If you witness harassment on your bus or skytrain ride to school next week – will you do something about it?
Tell us on twitter with the hashtag #transittuesday