What’s known as street harassment happens all too frequently, and D.C. leaders are asking residents to help address the issue through a new bystander intervention training program.
Street harassment could include suggestive comments, inappropriate touches or gestures, or being followed, according to the nonprofit Hollaback!, which hosted a training session for Ward 1 residents Tuesday night.
“This is … a very important milestone in the passage and implementation of the Street Harassment Prevention Act here in the District of Columbia,” said Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau during the training. “We’re doing a bunch of trainings District-wide right now… and hopefully we can do more in the future.”
The training aims to help bystanders intervene if it’s safe to do so. It suggests causing a distraction by pretending to be a friend, asking for the time, or to help by finding an authority figure or documenting what’s happening.
A report last year from the D.C. Office of Human Rights found that 69% of respondents experienced verbal street harassment and 40% had experienced physical street harassment in the previous six months.