Photo by PoPville flickr user [email protected]
From a press release:
“Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduced legislation that aims to target and eradicate street harassment in the District through education, awareness, data collection and culture change. The Councilmember spearheaded the first-ever Council roundtable on street harassment in December 2015 to bring attention to an experience that is all too common for many District residents. The bill is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Silverman, Grosso, Allen, Evans, R. White, and T. White.
“Street harassment is an unfortunate shared experience facing many of the District’s vulnerable populations,” said Councilmember Nadeau. “At the roundtable I spearheaded, we heard heartbreaking testimony about how pervasive and damaging it can be for residents. This legislation sends a strong message that harassing one another on the street is not something that Washingtonians will stand for.”
“Anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies on the federal level have a direct impact on the safety of people here in our community, particularly those who live at the intersections of multiple oppressed identities like queer and trans Muslims,” said Jessica Raven, Executive Director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces. “This legislation will equip D.C. agencies to address harassment in all its forms and make public spaces safe for everyone.”
Street harassment is defined as unwanted, disrespectful, or threatening comments, gestures, or other actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent. Harassment is directed at someone because of actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.
The legislation establishes an advisory committee which will develop policies, guidelines and procedures to educate District employees to identify and address street harassment; administer funding for street harassment awareness programs; evaluate and make recommendations regarding reporting street harassment; and conduct a survey to collect data so that we have a better understanding on the pervasiveness of street harassment. The bill targets areas where harassment is more common such as public transportation, cabs and ride-sharing services, bars, restaurants, night clubs, schools, colleges, sidewalks, parks and other public spaces.
“We need to create this change while being sensitive to the fact that young people, members of the LGBTQ community, people from communities of color, and people from low-income communities experience more frequent and severe harassment,” said Councilmember Nadeau. “I’m focused on education and culture change because any solution to the problem shouldn’t be an excuse to disproportionately target those same communities through criminalization.”