Smartphones have, quite literally, put the power in the hands of the people – so much that a New York City organization out to end street harassment is further developing its app to do so.
The app, Hollaback, will allow victims of street harassment to report incidents straight from their phones. Backed by current city council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, Hollaback has been allocated $20,000 in funds by the city council to expand their app from last year.
Street harassment happens everywhere, but it is most heavily reported, according to the Daily News, in Lower Manhattan and West Brooklyn. Quinn unveiled the app outside a subway stop in Bushwick.
“We’re here today to let New Yorkers – and particularly women and girls – know that people who violate women either by their actions or words won't be able to hide anymore," Quinn said at a press conference. "We will know who they are, what they do, where they do it, and we will put it to an end."
Hollaback allows you to report harassment from your palm in real time, planting a flag at the exact location of the incident. The result is a map of all the incidents across the city — and you have the option of sending your report straight through to the Mayor's office. While flagging an incident won't send the cops or anything similar, it helps to "engage legislators to work with trained leaders" on a community safety audit, according to app creator Emily May.
The previous version of Hollaback hadn’t included the option to send the report to the City Council and the mayor's office, a feature that Quinn May said made the new version especially empowering.
"With each report that you make, you will make New York City a little more intolerant of the hate that underlies street harassment," May said. "Reporting this takes back your power, and says, 'What happens to me on the streets matters, and I'm going to let the city of New York and Hollaback know it happened to me.’”
Quinn has received threats for being gay, her wife Kim Catullo told The New York Daily News.
“Chris has gotten threats about being gay," Catullo told the paper. "It’s hard to accept and we live in a place that is the most tolerant.”
Edited by Alisen Downey