What is Public Sexual Harassment?
Public Sexual Harassment (PSH) can include behaviours such as unwanted sexual comments, catcalling, honking, whistling, provocative gestures, staring, following, stalking, sexual requests, persistent propositioning, 'Air Dropping' unsolicited images to someone's phone, showing someone pornography in public.
PSH can happen to anyone, however, perpetrators mostly target people due to homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, ableism and fatphobia, as public sexual harassment is reflective of the discrimination within our society. These can also often be overlapping factors, and everyone experiences PSH differently.
There is no correct way to respond when you are being harassed.
It is never your fault and however you respond in the moment is right for you. If you decide to speak to someone about your experience or seek help, studies have shown that this will help the healing process.
If you witness someone being harassed, iHollaback have provided 5 ways you can safely help -
Distract - Start a conversation with the target or find another way to draw attention away from them. Ask them for directions or the time, for example.
Delegate - Find someone in a position of authority and ask them for help. Check in with the person being harassed. You can ask them if they want you to call the police.
Document - Always ask the person targeted what they want to do with the footage. Never post it online or use it without their permission. Make sure anything you do is focused on supporting the person being targeted.
Direct - Before you decide to respond directly, assess the situation. If all checks out you can say things like "that's inappropriate, disrespectful etc." or "leave them alone". You can also talk to the person being harassed about what's going on.
Delay - You can wait until the situation is over before you speak to the person who was harassed. You can offer to accompany them to their next destination or sit with them for a while.