When we see someone hurt, or fall on the road, we instinctively reach out to help. But it is not so when someone is being harassed sexually on the street. People tend to look the other way when they see someone uncomfortable on the street because of eve-teasing. People think that interfering will put them in danger, or it is not their business and more often than not, they do not know what to do in such a situation. Such inaction increases the embarrassment, trauma and humiliation felt by the victim of such street harassment. In addition to this, it sends out a message to the perpetrator of such harassment that their behaviour is OK.
According to research conducted by L’Oréal Paris and Ipsos Survey in the U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, France, Spain, Italy and India in March 2019, 78 per cent of women have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. The survey has also highlighted that only 25 per cent of these women said, someone, stood up to help them in such situations. In order to disrupt this dynamic, L’Oréal Paris and the NGO Hollaback! have joined forces to protect the self-worth of women and men, by creating a set of proven tools to help people safely intervene when they are a victim or witness to harassment in public spaces. The training program called ‘Stand Up’ is designed to help prevent street harassment and build safe, inclusive spaces for all. The program is aimed at training 1 million people in taking action against Street Harassment.
What is Street Harassment?
In order to prevent street harassment, it is important to understand what constitutes street harassment.
Street harassment is not always clear to identify. It is often very subtle and insidious. But whenever it is an unwanted verbal, non-verbal, physical conduct of a sexual nature, it is harassment. Other types of street harassment include: “accidentally” brushing, demanding “give me a smile”, backhanded compliments, groping, invading a person’s space, pressing or rubbing against the person’s body, sexual sneak attacks (i.e. grabbing breasts or buttocks when not looking), sexist jokes, sexual innuendos, and sexist and insulting graffiti.
How should one act when experiencing or witnessing Street Harassment?
Stand Up program by L’Oréal Paris and the NGO Hollaback! aims to train the bystanders as well as the victims on how to act while witnessing or experiencing street harassment. The set of subtle actions are effective and completely harmless as they prevent the escalation of sexual harassment and put a stop to it before it gets too far.
For the bystanders, the program recommends a 5D’s methodology is an expert-approved set of tools to help in safely intervening when witnessing street harassment. A bystander may need to use a different D depending on the situation, but it is important to always ensure that they feel safe before intervening. The 5D’s include:
Distract – Where one can distract the offender by asking them for time, or pretending to be friends with the victim;
Delegate – Where one can ask someone else who is the person of authority in the area for help;
Document – One can witness, write or film the harassment and provide the footage to the victim so that they can do with it as they deem fit. However, it is important to not post the footage online without the permission of the victim;
Direct – Where one can call out the bad behaviour of the offender directly and ask them to back out. However, this is to be used only as a last resort, and if the offender responds to it, it is to be ignored;
Delay – Where one can comfort the harassed person and acknowledge that the behaviour was wrong.
As a victim, the program recommends three actions that one can take to protect self from such harassment. They include:
Asking for help – The victim can ask the person next to them, or a person of authority for help.
Saying Something – The victim can call out the inappropriate behaviour of the harasser and ask them to back off. However, this is to be used only as a last resort to prevent violence.
Recording it – In order to take action against the offender at a later stage as well, the victim can consider recording the incident themselves or asking a bystander to do it, if they feel safe.
In order to understand the actions better, one can take a digital training of 10 minutes to prevent street harassment by clicking here.