New Legislation in City Council To Help Make D.C. Streets Safer

Today Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau introduced legislation to establish a new Street Harassment Task Force led by the Office on Human Rights to collect data and develop evidence-based policy recommendations to help make DC streets safer by reducing harassment.

The legislation follows the Council’s first-ever hearing on street harassment in December 2015 when people from all walks of life—mothers, daughters, trans and queer women, and people of different religious backgrounds and racial identities—shared the ways that public sexual harassment and assault, more commonly known as street harassment, affects their lives. We heard similar themes. Most experienced harassment for the first time at age 11 or 12; most experience it on a daily basis; it’s more severe for women of color and particularly transwomen of color; and it’s triggering for survivors of past violence or abuse.

Street harassment is the most highly prevalent form of gender-based violence. 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 in the community to collect data and develop evidence-based, noncriminal solutions to address the problem for DC’s most vulnerable populationscommunities of color, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming people, and people experiencing homelessness. Together, we can work to make public spaces safe for everyone.

The legislation, if passed, would create a Task Force of government and community-based stakeholders and be charged with data collection, creating effective strategies for high-risk settings, and creating bystander intervention training for key stakeholders.

The DC Street Harassment Task Force Establishment Act of 2016 is here.