Sexual Assault as told by Whisper

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, there is an average of 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. Dealing with sexual harassment and assault is challenging because rarely do people open up and talk about it and/or report it to the authorities. In fact, the National Crime Victimization Survey shows that 60% of sexual assault crimes are unreported.

Apps such as Whisper give people a platform and anonymity so they can freely tell their secrets. Here are some of the Whispers that we found about sexual harassment and assault and the facts behind them.

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The National Crime Victimization Survey also showed  that approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim and 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.

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In 2013, there were 7,256 complaints of sexual harassment made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: 82 percent filed by women and 18 percent filed by men.

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According to a study by HuffPost and YouGov, 70 percent of people who had been sexually harassed in the workplace say they didn’t report it.

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If a person sends you an unwanted picture of his genitals, you can press charges on the individual. However, earlier this year a Georgia court ruling dismissed an obscenity case because the 1970 law did not include electronic obscenities– just tangible. Read the full article by the BBC here.

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A poll by AAUW Educational Foundation shows that 62 percent of college students reported to be sexually harassed and 66 percent reported to know someone who had been sexually harassed.

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According to an AP report,the majority of military sexual assault cases (as many as 22,000 in 2012) go unreported  by the victim.

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In the article, “The Mental Health Impact of Rape” Dean G. Kilpatrick, Ph.D writes that almost one-third (31%) of all rape victims developed PTSD sometime during their lifetime; and more than one in ten rape victims (11%) still has PTSD today.

The best way to stop sexual harassment and assault is by talking about it. Want to be part of the conversation? Share your stories with us!  Also, make sure to read what people have been telling us so far.


Let’s Talk About Street Harassment

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On her way to Washington Square Park, Brisa Muñoz was carrying her guitar when a man said, “Hey pretty mama, why don’t you teach me how to play guitar?” Muñoz, the Artistic Director of the Applied Theatre Collective, who was on her way to a anti-street harassment rally didn’t answer. She later said, “In my head I was screaming ‘No I don’t want to!’”

What is street harassment?

Street harassment are unwelcoming comments, groping, flashing, or assault based on gender or sexual orientation in public spaces.

Street harassment is the most common form of sexual harassment and the one with the least laws written against it. There is not much research conducted about harassment in public spaces, but according to Hollaback studies estimate that 80-90% of women have been street harassed.

“I feel that it’s so appropriate to come together with people and discuss … not only what you wish you said in the moment but also what are the ways to keep yourself safe and how the people around you can help keep you safe,” said Muñoz. Muñoz got her masters in Applied Theatre in the City University of New York. Applied theatre uses drama techniques to address social issues and injustices. She led a music box protest as part of the rally.

“Music is such a great way to build community and build solidarity so not why stand up for ourselves in a way that’s fun and engaging,” she says.

Who are the most common victims of street harassment?

Academic and community studies show that women and members of the LGBT community are the most common victims of street harassment.

Lourdes Ashley Hunter was shocked by the sexual harassment in public spaces when she moved from Michigan to New York City.

Hunter is taking her masters in Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers, was at the rally to support the cause and represent her own organization: Trans Women of Color Collective of Greater New York.

She was the last speaker to talk and ended the rally by reading a poem by Sasha Banks titled, “Dear Brown Girl” from her smartphone:

Brown girl,
love the limb
and length of you:
your stone back, and
bullet mouth, your satin hips
and thick knuckles;
do not apologize for this
or open your hands
to beg forgiveness for your own
blood and bones.
Do not fix your mouth to say
that you are anything less
than everything. Say
that you are every possible
definition of beauty
and power. Say
you are the perfect
natural disaster.

The crowd cheered when she finished reading. She was surprised at the lack of women of color that attended while sitting on a bench admiring a pianist nearby. Her long dark braids shine against the sun. Hunter believes that it’s important to highlight the situation of trans-women being cat called. “The cat calling tends to leads to violence,” she explains what happens after an aggressor realizes that a woman he just cat called is trans.

Where do men stand?

“It’s guys that do it so we have to have an equal responsibility if not a greater one with woman and girls to work together to stop it from happening,” says Joe Samalin, a blogger for Samalin says some of the best ways for men to help end street harassment is is to talk to women in their life that they trust and ask them about it, as well as, believing women when they say they have been a victim of street harassment or any type of sexual harassment.

Samalin believes that men’s role in stopping street harassment is not just about halting it in the moment. “It also has to be about really challenging the culture: identifying hot spots of harassment where you live and working in partnership with women and LGBTQ folks to let harassers know and men who do this know that it’s not okay in this neighborhood that we are not going to allow this anymore,” he says.

Continue the Conversation: tell us about your experience!

At Cat Call Back we want to learn more about street harassment and how it affects women all over the world. Share your stories with us so we can better report this topic.

Fighting street harassment worldwide

The New York Times
October 21, 2013

A Worldwide Fight Against Street Harassment


THE reality of street harassment against women who are traveling dawned on me some years ago in Rabat, Morocco, when my wife rushed back into our hotel room looking uncharacteristically shaken. She had ventured out alone on an errand, and had been accosted on a street near the Kasbah by a group of men, several of whom barked and made lewd comments, one of whom exposed himself. In broad daylight.

Actually, you may already know this story, if you’re a woman who travels by herself. Mostly, around the world, even in exotic locales, street life is serene and manageable. Sometimes, though, women see a very different street than men see.

There have been horrific stories in recent years of violent sexual assaults on women who are traveling, and there is no need to reprise them here. Physical assaults are at one extreme on the scale of street harassment, but the scale also encompasses grades of sexually oriented assault, including groping and verbal abuse. Increasingly, social networks, often organized by young women, are working together around the world to share stories and encourage organized action against street harassment of all sorts.

To one degree or another, it occurs just about everywhere. “I moved to New York City when I was 18, and being harassed on the street was a part of daily life for a young woman,” said Emily May, the co-founder and executive director of one of the most wide-ranging of the international groups addressing street harassment, Hollaback (

“I knew it was not O.K., but I really just thought that this is what women have to deal with if they want to live in the city, that there is nothing you can do to change it. But female friends and I began having conversations with male friends who were shocked to hear our stories. One guy looked at me and said, ‘You live in a different New York City than I do.’ And I was like, ‘What’s up with that? Why do I live in a different New York City?’ ”

In 2005, when she was 24, Ms. May and six friends, three of them male, started Hollaback, which has since ridden an international wave of digitally organized reaction against street harassment around the world. From its modest beginnings in New York, Hollaback says it now has affiliates in 62 cities in 25 countries, working in 12 languages.

It is managed by a staff of three full-time employees, including Ms. May, operating on a shoestring budget out of an office at the Y.W.C.A. in Downtown Brooklyn. Around the world, there are now 300 organizers who have all been trained by the group, mostly through extensive webinars. Ms. May said Hollaback trained them “to pair storytelling with on-the-ground action” to expand public awareness of street harassment.

Right now, Ms. May said, two of the major hubs for organized action against street harassment are Egypt and India, countries where some of the most notorious street sexual assaults against women have occurred in recent years. In Egypt, a separate group called HarassMap tracks in real time reports of street harassment that women can make anonymously using mobile technology. HarassMap, in Arabic and English, also provides links for assistance and education. In 2012, Egypt toughened laws against sexual street harassment, including groping and catcalls, but in general “they are not enforced,” HarassMap says, while often, the victim who reports harassment is blamed.

In India, “street harassment is an everyday reality for women,” said Rubina Singh, the director of the Hollaback chapter in Chandigarh. “Comments, staring, stalking, groping and much more are pretty much expected to be experienced by a woman traveling here.” Partly because of online story-sharing and networking that bring sharper narrative focus to the issues, however, police have become more cognizant of street harassment against women, she said.

“There is also a change in the general attitude of the public,” she added. “It’s easier to talk about street harassment now than it was last year.” Like others in the organized initiatives against street harassment, Ms. Singh noted that it occurred everywhere, even in places where street life was not especially bustling. While visiting Los Angeles, she said, “I’ve had my share of comments and catcalls.”

In coordinating with international organizers and training new ones, Ms. May added, “we’re always on Skype and Google hangouts to meet regularly with everyone. It’s a robust online community — they all talk amongst each other to try to facilitate a cross-cultural collaboration.

“Just yesterday I was on the phone with our team in Croatia, and they had noticed that our team in Baltimore was doing this really great ‘take back the bar’ campaign, for training people who worked in bars to be able to respond when they saw harassment happening. And Croatia was like: ‘Yeah, we see the same issues. We want to bring that here.’ ”


Catcall Reversed

Published by The Guardian, this video shows a different side to catcalling, one in which men are on the receiving end.

Usually women and, often at times, members of the LGBT community fall victim to street harassment. But what would happen if suddenly the roles were reversed; if they were no longer the prey but instead the predator?

The Guardian’s Leah Green took to the streets of London, hissing and catcalling men in public spaces to see how they would react to a street harassment. Many of the men she approached appeared to be appalled by her “unlady-like” behavior.

Each scene enacted in the video tells the real-life accounts of women who reported their incidents to @EverydaySexism.



The story on the struggles of Egyptian women and their rights. Associated Press reports how very little has changed on the ground to enshrine their rights in spite of the country’s new constitution. There have been series of cases of mass sexual harassment faced by women especially since 2011 during the unrest where women protestors faced unprecedented crackdown leading to deaths and brutal sexual assaults.

Catch the big story here