Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Work Together: Group Solutions to Violence and Harassment

Salon's Broadsheet reports on yet another Japanese invention that supposedly protects women: the Anti-Groping Appli, a design for Web-equipped phones that displays messages like "Groping is a crime."

Apparently you call it up on your phone and stick it in the face of the person whose hand is invading your privacy. Frankly, I think good old-fashioned yelling would be more effective, even in polite Japan.

At least someone is thinking about the subject, but if the Japanese really want to solve the problem of men groping women on crowded subways, they need to work on it using law enforcement and campaigns to draw public attention. Any society that can make its trains and subways run on time as well as the Japanese can solve this social problem if they really want to.

While the primary focus of this blog is on what individuals can do to protect themselves, it's important to recognize that there are many other things governments and citizen's groups can do to improve safety for everyone. Making the community safer is an integral part of taking care of yourself.

Here's a good project (also found through the Salon Broadsheet post): Right Rides, an organization in New York City that offers free rides home for women, transgender people, and others susceptible to harassment or worse. The service operates on Saturday night/early Sunday morning and can be reached at that time at 718-964-7781.

Universities often offer similar services and there is no reason why any community cannot organize a similar operation.

Here's something a little more creative aimed at street harassers: Holla Back, a blog that exposes those who expose themselves and otherwise bother women on the street. It may not directly keep you safe, but I'm sure it's personally satisfying.

1 comment:

Zed said...

My understanding is that Japan actually has been stepping up law enforcement for the last several years, and women are in fact taking increasing advantage of it. They are currently having two major problems: perpetrator identification, and the driving of a certain amount of social lashback. I'm afraid I don't have links, but there have been newspaper articles published noting that they are actually having a disturbingly high (I forget the number, but well into double-digits) percentage of demonstrated mistaken identity cases when a woman is sexually assaulted on a train, and grabs the wrong man in response, as proven by immediate DNA testing in the case where the assault involved penetration. The implication isn't that the women are lying, but that it is, in fact, very difficult to figure out who's hand it was in a subway so packed that you can't even turn around.

It is also becoming less socially acceptable to be caught at it, to the point that
I saw a few newspaper articles covering things as interesting as teenage girls who go out in twos or threes, all of them making a very loud fuss until the man pays restitution. Apparently, they've been having enough success to make as much money as a part-time job.

On the downside, it's driving some really ugly alternatives on the male side, and businesses have cropped up finding more 'pliant' women as marriage candidates, or in one particularly nasty case, opening up a pseudo-brothel that simulates a subway where paid prostitutes get onto private subway cars for the purpose of being groped by paying customers.