D.C. Street Harassment Task Force Will Help Make D.C. Streets Safer, Collect Important Data
Posted on March 01, 2016 at 11:38 AM
Legislation from Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau follows Council’s first-ever hearing on the subject late last year
WASHINGTON – Following the moving testimony of District residents in the Council’s first-ever hearing on street harassment, Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau introduced legislation today establishing a task force to collect important data and recommend training and policy changes to help make DC streets safer by reducing harassment. The legislation is the result of collaboration with Collective Action for Safe Spaces and was co-introduced by Councilmembers David Grosso (I-At Large), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and cosponsored by Councilmember LaRuby May (D-Ward 8).
"I was deeply moved by the hours of testimony about how street harassment impairs the ability of residents to move freely and safely throughout the city," said Councilmember Nadeau. "Our next step is to back up the testimony with data and bring together advocates and experts to create a plan that will make DC streets safer through education and working to change the culture. We need to create this change while being sensitive to the fact that young people, members of the LGBTQ community, people from communities of color, and people from low-income communities experience more frequent and severe harassment. Any solution to the problem shouldn’t be an excuse to disproportionately target those same communities through criminalization."
"Street harassment is the most highly prevalent form of gender-based violence,” said Jessica Raven, Interim Executive Director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces. “It's too often dismissed as a compliment or a joke, but it directly affects the health and esteem of thousands of people who experience it every day. Through the Street Harassment Task Force, CASS can work together with key stakeholders in government and the community to collect data on the way the problem affects the most vulnerable populations – communities of color, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming people, and people experiencing homelessness – so we can work to make public spaces safe for everyone."
The legislation would establish a new Street Harassment Task Force led by the Office on Human Rights. The Task Force would include government and non-government stakeholders and be charged with: data collection, creation of effective strategies for high-risk settings, creating bystander intervention training for key stakeholders, and recommendation of statutory changes. The Task Force would be constituted within 30 days and report its findings within one year.
Unfortunately, many residents in the District have experienced some form of street harassment, which can include vulgar remarks, heckling, insults, innuendo, stalking, leering, fondling, indecent exposure, and other forms of public humiliation, often focused on the individual’s perceived gender, gender identity, race or ethnicity, or disability.
At Councilmember Nadeau’s request, on December 3, 2015, the D.C. Council held its first-ever hearing dedicated solely to the subject of street harassment. The Councilmember shared her own experiences with street harassment and for more than four hours residents shared their stories and discussed possible solutions. The hearing was co-convened by the Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Housing and Community Development.
The DC Street Harassment Task Force Establishment Act of 2016 as introduced is below.
About Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau
In her many years of service to the community, Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) has brought perspectives from a career that spans the non-profit, public and private sectors. She is committed to strengthening our schools, increasing affordable housing and promoting government transparency and the highest ethical standards. Prior to joining the Council, she was a strategic advisor to faith-based, Democratic and environmental non-profits, and is a former ANC. Follow her on Twitter @brianneknadeau or at Facebook.com/brianneknadeau.