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Shining A Light On “Herassment”

Ambassador for Hollaback! Bahamas Sabria Thompson was among several international speakers and activitists at the Holla Revolution conference in London.

Ambassador for Hollaback! Bahamas Sabria Thompson was among several international speakers and activitists at the Holla Revolution conference in London.

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

jgibson@tribunemedia.net

WITH SEXUAL harassment being a daily reality for many Bahamian women, local organisations like Hollaback! have launched various initiatives that engage the country’s youth in battling the problem and assist in putting an end to street harassment.

Last month, 19-year-old Bahamian Sabria Thompson joined her voice to those of women around the world at the “Holla: Revolution” global street harassment conference in London, England.

Hollaback! is a group of activists who work together to better understand street harassment, ignite public conversations and develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces. It has chapters in 25 countries.

According to a statement on the organisation’s website, “Street harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence and one of the least legislated against. However, it is rarely reported and culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman or for being gay.”

Since its launch in the Bahamas last year, numerous people have joined the movement, including Sabria, who gave a presentation during the UK conference.

The event was hosted at the Amnesty International Human Rights Centre in London and saw leading thinkers and activists in the field expand the definitions of street harassment and discuss what can be done and what is being done to create real on-the-ground change in communities.

Sabria’s presentation at the conference focused on Hollaback! Bahamas’ project “HERassment Stories: An Experimental Documentary”. The initiative won the Hollaback! Innovation Challenge 2014, and as part of the prize a representative from the Bahamas was invited to present on it.

“The main focus of the presentation was to differentiate between intent and impact of sexual harassment in public places. It was to clearly draw the line between what someone may have meant to say/do in their approach to you and the negative impact it has. It also highlighted projects Hollaback! Bahamas will launch this year, including the STARR Initiative - a safe space project for women and girls,” Sabria told Tribune Woman.

“The most important aspect about this platform in my opinion is the surprises that street harassment holds. Nobody asks to be harassed and it always comes as a surprise. It is especially frightening because you do not know the nature of these strangers. The reason why it’s important is because in most cases men tend to be more powerful and a woman’s or girl’s means to get out of a situation where she’s being harassed, especially physically, can end in the harasser’s favour.”

When Hollaback! was first launched in the Bahamas, Sabria was inspired by the cause and began following the organisation. She underwent four weeks of training and is currently an ambassador for Hollaback!.

The safety of young girls and women is what fuels her passion to bring an end to street harassment.

“I would like it if men would take just a minute to think of the effect harassment has on women and girls. Women and girls should have the right to freely manoeuvre in public without the thought of being harassed,” she said.

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