Stalking on Campus: A Silent Epidemic

The first steps to combating this crime include taking it seriously, having an appropriate policy, and training campus personnel and public safety officers on how to effectively respond.

Twenty-four people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, and a significant portion of these individuals attend, are employed by or are patients of universities, K-12 districts and hospitals.

It is for this reason that Campus Safety magazine has developed a series of articles that aims to provide greater awareness and information on these troublesome, yet underreported crimes. The first installment, which follows, is on stalking.

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Attempted Sexual Assault

Cal Poly University Police Department issued a warning today about an attempted sexual assault that occurred this past Tuesday evening. A female was walking along the pedestrian path from Cal Poly to Mustang Village when three males approached her and one grabbed her and pulled her to the ground. Thankfully, the assault was interrupted by a bicyclist who was riding near the area.


Please keep safe, always be with a companion, and observe what is going on around you. Call 911 immediately if you feel unsafe.

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A Spotlight on Mona Eltahawy

We recently wrote about the violence and aggression towards female activists in Egypt. Mona Eltahawy, a prominent Egyptian-American journalist known for her criticism of the Egyptian regime, is one such activist that felt the brutality of the Egyptian military in recent months. In November 2011, Eltahawy was arrested by military police in Tahrir Square. She was beaten and sexually assaulted before being released (which she notes only happened due to her fame).  She returned to her life with a broken arm and hand, and the trauma of the assault.

Eltahawy’s strength during such a trying time was documented on her Twitter after she was released. She took her story to the world, exposing the enraging behavior of the Egyptian regime to innocent protestors. She first borrowed a phone in prison to tweet that she had been beaten and detained. Later she spoke of her sexual harassment from the police tweeting, “5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers.”

After she tweeted the ordeal, Eltahawy took to various forms of media to speak against the Egyptian police and misogyny. In The Guardian she recounts the event from start to finish. She begins her story by stating, “The last thing I remember before the riot police surrounded me was punching a man who had groped me. Who the hell thinks of copping a feel as you’re taking shelter from bullets?” The idea that a man could choose to sexually harass a woman as she tries to keep her life is outrageous. However, females (and activists, especially) are suffering this aggression constantly.

Eltahawy’s kick-ass actions after her arrest show that the Internet is helping victims find a voice when they most desperately need one. She used her Twitter account, news websites, and broadcasts to express herself. Women and men around the world can follow her path, and Hollaback! is one such way to tell your story as well as show support for all the people out there that have been affected by street harassment. The plight of Egyptian women only proves how important it is that we further a global community against harassment and for security.

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It is about time!

The FBI finally changed their definition of rape. Since 1929, the FBI has determined rape as the “carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” There are several things wrong with this outdated and inappropriate definition:

First, men are entirely excluded, wildly suggesting that men cannot be sexually assaulted.

Secondly, the idea that rape can be anything other than against one’s will is absurd.

The FBI’s choice of words encourages the notion that rape has to be a specific type or degree of assault to be worth consideration. Victims may not feel that their assault is worth reporting, since it does not apply to this definition.

Because this definition does not include a lot of aspects of assault, statistics on rape have been skewered in the last eighty plus years. As The Washington Post notes, “the federal revision holds deep significance because in the public mind, the FBI’s reports are often synonymous with crime rates. The FBI data are also used by policymakers to analyze crime and draft anti-crime initiatives.”

With a new, broader definition that includes oral penetration and the rape of men, the statistics may represent a more accurate amount of rape crime. This in turn will help our country become safer and more aware of harassment.



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commentary, news

The Revolution in Egypt

We must commend those who have been protesting in Cairo the past few weeks against military harassment and violence specifically targeting female protestors. The violence was caused by a three week sit-in at Tahrir Square where protestors demanded that civilian power be restored. Images released of women being beaten and dragged by their hair caused protestors to gather in the last few days against the outrageous actions of the Egyptian military. The Guardian reports, “Amnesty International said on [last] Friday that authorities in Egypt must not use force against peaceful protestors by targeting women with ‘gender-based violence.’” The recent violence against women has only proven how much Egypt needs to change. The country is currently divided between military rule and a civilian revolution, and thus the streets have become extremely dangerous. However, the movements geared toward ending such danger show a positive direction for Egypt. Thousands of civilian women and men have shown their desire for a new, safer country.

The recent events that have transpired are only part of a larger problem. The majority of women in Egypt feel frequently harassed, and a large percentage of men partake in, encourage, or accept the harassment of women. Harassmap is one initiative trying to change the culture behind street harassment in Egypt. If a woman is harassed, she can text the site which will respond with resources (how to file a police report, legal aid, counseling, self-defence, etc.) and a map will record the instance (similar to our very own Hollaback maps). The people behind Harassmap want this to not only be a resource for women, but an entire media campaign of change.

The protestors and civilians need our support, and there are several ways to do so. The Occupy movement that started at Wall Street and has grown nationally and internationally has rallied for the Egyptian civilians. Protests such as these make the revolution stronger and also makes the issue more global. The leaders of countries become aware of how important the issue is to their people, and hopefully, act accordingly. This is also one of the first large-scale movements to incorporate media technology as part of the effort. People have taken to Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites to spread awareness and show their support. YouTube and other uploading sites have allowed for protestors and international supporters to reveal the corruption of the government/military and the main points of the movement to anyone with an Internet connection. Finally, you can write letters to your local state Senators and House Representatives. They can help send aid to the civilians in Egypt. It is time to take action and help end street harassment on a local, national, and international scale.

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commentary, news

The “Twice Victimized” Victim

The New York Times posted an article by Jane E. Brody in their online health section on the “twice victimized” victim, an idea that explores how sexual assault victims have to endure the pain of both sexual assault and the legal system. The article discusses how sexual assault is treated differently than other crimes, because the victim often has to endure the notion that they are lying until proven otherwise.  This type of trauma, amongst feelings of embarrassment and/or shame, is often why rape and other types of sexual assault go unreported. Brody notes that fewer than 40% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported, which leads to the alarming statistic that 15 out of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail.

These statistics are inexcusable, and sexual assault victims should not feel as if reporting a crime committed against them will only further their pain. Society, media outlets, and the legal system must better support sexual assault victims and work against people feeling unprotected. We should not have to be scared of what might happen to us, or feel as if we’re helpless if something does. Hollaback! helps bring a voice to victims of all types of assault by giving people a place to tell their story. This is our community’s platform against street harassment and all issues that are simply unacceptable.


Read Brody’s article here or share your story.

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hollaback! around the world, news

HOLLABACK! GROWS TO 45 CITIES INTERNATIONALLY: New Locations in San Luis Obispo, Colombia, and India

December 7, 2011 (San Luis Obispo) – The movement to end street harassment takes another impressive leap today as an additional 11 Hollaback! sites launch internationally, including one in San Luis Obispo.  The San Luis Obispo site is run by a team of local activists who are deeply committed to working on-line and off-line to end street harassment in San Luis Obispo.

Hollaback! San Luis Obispo Co-Director, Jane Lehr, said that “Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of social violence in this country, and one of the least legislated against. It is rarely reported, and is too often accepted as the ‘price you pay’ simply for being a woman, a person of color, an immigrant, dis/abled, a poor person, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer in this community.”

“The Hollaback! project makes patterns and instances of street harassment visible using mobile- and web-based technology,” said Lauren Monn, the second Hollaback! San Luis Obispo Co-Director. Monn, a Cal Poly student, added that, “We believe that street harassment is a gateway crime that normalizes gender, race, class, dis/ability, religion, and sexual orientation-based violence. Our goal is to use the knowledge gained about where and when local street harassment happens via real-time reports to our site – – to facilitate community-wide efforts to end this type of violence.”

“Hollaback! isn’t just an app or a map – it’s a movement,” said Hollaback! Board Chair, Samuel Carter. The organization is now in 45 cities and 16 countries, with leaders speaking more than nine different languages.

Local Hollaback! site leaders run their local blog and organize their communities through advocacy, community partnerships, and direct action. Site leaders are as diverse in their backgrounds as they are in their experiences of harassment.  Hollaback! reports that 44% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer, 26% identify as people of color, 76% are under the age of 30, and 90% are women.

Hollaback!’s international sites are already having an impact. In Querétaro, Mexico, site leaders have developed a workshop to promote cities free of harassment for all people. In the last two months, 600 young people have taken part. In Croatia, site leaders are creating a survey that will allow them to collect data on street harassment that will then be used across the Hollaback! network, giving Hollaback! an ability to compare street harassment across national contexts.

About Hollaback! Hollaback! ( is a global movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. Launched in 2005 as a New York City blog, Hollaback! has expanded and now has iPhone and Droid apps that give victims a real-time, crowd-sourced response to street harassment. New locations include Bogota, Colombia; Boston, MA; San Luis Obispo, CA; Chennai, India; Düsseldorf, Germany; Minneapolis, MN; Montreal, Quebec; Palo Alto, CA; Portland, ME; Santiago, Chile; and Winnipeg, Canada.

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