International Human Rights Day and Street Harassment

Today, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day. I am looking back on 67 years of progress in awe of where we’ve come from and the strides, especially in gender relations, that we’ve made. Marriage equality has been recognized in 21 countries,  legal rights have been extended to women more rapidly and we are finally talking about sexuality.

As much as I’d like to stick in that haze of nostalgia, I am also struck by the current state of us. Street harassment is still not “technically” illegal here in Canada, trans safety is more compromised than ever and the strength of patriarchy still surrounds us. In 2015, these factors continue to intersect and interrupt our day-to-day lives.

That’s why I am ready to look forward.

Human Rights should be as diverse and cumbersome as the humans they are addressing. The Human Rights Declaration is vague – but can be advantageous if we open our conceptions of them. When we are talking about safety of the individual, that can absolutely include safety from street harassment.

But, why don’t we see it like that?

Our work as activists is integral to shifting this view. A culture that refuses to associate street harassment with safety is exactly what Hollaback and its affiliates continue to work on. We are all striving towards a future where, on Human Rights Day, we can look back and say, hey, remember when we took collective action against street harassment?

Today, it’s important to celebrate the past and hold ourselves accountable for the future.

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