Sarah Peck teaches self-defense classes in Athens. She discovered that many of the women who signed up for her course did so because of each of them was harassed by someone in public. The harassment could be anything from a man commenting on her body as she walked down the street to groups of men staring or acting in a physically threatening way.
“As a woman myself, I’ve experienced street harassment countless times as has every other woman I’ve ever talked to about the issue,” explained Peck. “I found… that the participants in these classes were looking for ways to avoid street harassment or deal with it when it occurred, because they thought it threatening. It caused fear in them. It caused them to change their behaviors—where they went, with whom and when and I just didn’t really have good resources for them until I discovered Hollaback!”
Hollaback! is a non-profit organization that started in 2005. The group helps interested communities organize to combat street harassment.
This week, Peck and other “fight leaders” have hosted activities and community forums to help change the culture of accepting street harassment, during "Anti-Street Harassment Week."
“It’s an issue that’s been overlooked for a long time,” Peck said. “It’s ubiquitous. It’s everywhere and that makes it kind of invisible and so we’re hoping to draw attention to the problem, to say ‘what is street harassment? How does it affect the people that are harassed and how do we address it in our community?”
Peck believes that by opening a dialogue, people can change the culture.
“I do think that we have the power to change this. I think in some cases, yes, people don’t understand the impact that their behaviors are having and that other times it’s definitely, you know, a power-based issue,” Peck shared. “Street harassment is considered a point on the continuum of gender-based violence and power-based violence and overlooking it and accepting it contributes to an environment where we’re more accepting of assaults and rape and sexual violence in general.”
To learn more information about Hollaback! Athens, visit their webpage, http://athensga.ihollaback.org/.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Screening of "War Zone"
Flicker Theater and Bar
263 W. Washington Street
(Only open to those 21 and older)
Saturday, April 13, 2013
"Chalk the Walk"
Little Five Points