WATCH: PSA on Street Harassment, Part of L'Oréal Paris and Hollaback! Training Program

By Etan Vlessing 3/27/20 |

Photo courtesy of L'Oréal Paris.
L'Oréal Paris has created a public service announcement to help stop street harassment, by showing men’s inappropriate sexual behaviour in such public places as gyms, bars and on the street, and what a person can do to intervene. 

While the timing might be off at the moment, due to social distancing, it’s still a lesson worth noting to put into practice when social activity gets back to normal.

Street harassment is defined as "Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation," according to Stop Street Harassment.

Narrated by various voices, both male and female, the PSA begins, “We see it happen everywhere, at any time. 78 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces, like a suggestive comment, a sexually explicit touch, an inappropriate gesture or being followed and it threatens our self-worth. It takes over who we are.

“We see it happen, but stay cautiously silent and uncomfortably look away,” it continues, the words also flashing on the screen.

“Maybe because we don't know what to do, how to help or how to combat the situation. The time has come to keep our heads up and to stand up for each other against street harassment. And everyone can be part of the solution.”

It then shows examples of solutions, intervening if we see someone harassing a person.

The PSA is part of an international bystander training program, Stand Up Against Street Harassment, in partnership with the nonprofit organization Hollaback!, which was launched earlier this month for International Women's Day (March 8), to teach men and women how to combat street harassment in public spaces with simple but impactful actions. The goal is to train a million people.

Hollaback! was founded by Emily May in 2005 when she was 24, living in New York City, and along with friends began to react against street harassment.

Besides workplace training, Hollaback! also has a bystander guide that empowers people witnessing street harassment, especially as women are on their own, to intervene, to insist harassment isn't acceptable and to demonstrate to others that they too can take a stand against harassment, if only verbal abuse.

Photo courtesy of L'Oréal Paris.
"L’Oréal Paris stands for empowerment in every walk of a woman’s life. By removing obstacles preventing women from fulfilling their ambitions, we are committed to elevating their sense of self-worth. With Hollaback! and other local NGO partners, we are committed to creating a world for girls and women to march confidently forward into a future free from street harassment," Delphine Viguier-Hovasse, global brand president of L’Oréal Paris said in a statement.

L’Oréal Paris launch its Stand Up program in five countries — France, Spain, Argentina, Canada and the U.S. — with six additional countries planned for later this year, to drive awareness of street harassment with a call-to-action on a global scale through a dedicated training website.

"The goal of the Stand Up program is to train 1,000,000 people to become Upstanders before the end of 2021 and ultimately build a culture where street harassment is seen as unacceptable behaviour," Hollaback! says on its website.

"Why don’t we have the same reaction when we see someone being sexually harassed? We see it happen, but uncomfortably look away. We feel the urge to speak up, but stay cautiously silent. We all want to do something about it, but don’t know what. Or worse, we end up thinking it’s 'not a big deal.' Not knowing what constitutes street harassment and what to do, limits our ability to take action, chipping away at the self-worth of men and women who suffer from street harassment," it states on Hollaback!

The NGO is also working with Caruso to provide LGBTQ+ youth in New York City with free bystander intervention training.  

The need for intervention is even greater in less developed parts of the world where young women are especially at risk of sexual street harassment. Hollaback! says it has trained over 550 young people from cities around the world to localize Hollaback! intervention tools using the Hollaback! digital storytelling platform and on-the-ground resources.

"Our site leaders are young and diverse: 75% are under 30, 41% are LGBTQ+ and 33% are people of color. Activists receive comprehensive 3-month training prior to launch, and following launch, they receive ongoing training and technical assistance from our team," the NGO says on its website.

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