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Street Harassment Survey in South Africa (Cornell)


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Hollaback! and Cornell University began a large-scale research survey on street harassment in 2014. The research was released in two parts: Part I reviewed data from the United States and Part II of the survey, a cross-cultural analysis of street harassment from 42 cities around the globe, was released in May 2015.
Data was collected and analyzed by Dr. Beth Livingston, Cornell University ILR School and graduate assistants Maria Grillo and Rebecca Paluch, Cornell University ILR School in partnership with Hollaback! - See more at:

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Street Harassment Survey in South Africa (Cornell)

  1. 1. Hollaback! International Street Harassment Survey Project Analyses provided by: Dr. Beth Livingston Research Assistants Maria Grillo and Rebecca Paluch Property of Beth A. Livingston, Cornell University. Do not disseminate without permission of Dr. Livingston and
  2. 2. Procedure • Beth Livingston (assistant professor, Cornell ILR School) created the survey – Hollaback!’s constant feedback and guidance – Guidance of prior research on street (or stranger) harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. – Survey uploaded to the survey hosting site (provided by Cornell) called Qualtrics. • Surveys were translated, where appropriate, by volunteers from various Hollaback! sites – Guided by instructions to ensure the internal validity of the questionnaire – Feedback was given by Hollaback! leadership and site leaders throughout the process to make sure we were using wording that was as broadly applicable as possible – Reviewed by Cornell’s institutional review board and found to be exempt because no identifying information was collected from respondents. • Site leaders given their own links to the survey in the languages they preferred. – They had 2 months (October 15-December 15, 2014) – Could send the links out however they wished – Survey was not randomly distributed to a random sample of participants, and thus cannot be generalized in the same was as, say, a Gallup survey – Demographic data was collective so that o a profile of respondents could be created • Updates were sent to each site periodically to try to encourage them to reach a sample size of 100 respondents per site. – There were 16,607 respondents across all 42 sites that participated. – The survey was translated into 13 languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Bosnian, Croatian, Hindi, Polish, Czech, Nepali, Marathi, and German •
  4. 4. South African Women under age 40: Age AGE AT FIRST HARASSMENT Percentage of respondents <10 13.5 11-12 21.6 13-14 21.6 15-16 18.9 17-20 21.6 21-25 2.7 over 25 N/A
  5. 5. South African Women under age 40: Summaries • 76% of South African women report their first experience with street harassment before age 17. In fact, 57% report their first experience before age 15. A full 14% report that it happened before they turned 10. • Verbal and nonverbal harassment are the most commonly experienced types of harassment, and few women report not experiencing this behavior at all during the past year. • Having a person expose him/herself to you is the least common harassment experience, with 63% of women having no experience with this at all. • Over half of South African women have been groped or fondled in the past year. • 72% have been followed by a man or group of men in a way that made them feel unsafe during the past year – 31% of South African women have experienced this frightening behavior more than 5 times.
  6. 6. South African Women under age 40: Locations • Has this happened in certain location/under certain circumstances, during past year? Expose Grope/Fondle Follow Verbal Nonverbal On the street 25 25 47.5 50 60 In a park 5 2.5 12.5 17.5 20 On public transit 5 20 15 32.5 25 In a public transit station 0 10 12.5 30 25 On way to work 7.5 17.5 25 42.5 42.5 On way to school 5 7.5 12.5 15 17.5 On way to social event 2.5 12.5 15 27.5 30 on a college campus 2.5 5 5 15 15 IN a well lit area 5 20 27.5 40 50 In a pooly lit area 5 25 22.5 30 25 In a city 32.5 42.5 52.5 55 65 In a suburb/outside of a city 15 15 25 30 35 In a manufacturing area 2.5 2.5 7.5 20 17.5 In a retail/sales/shopping area 7.5 15 22.5 27.5 30 Around a lot of other people 15 37.5 37.5 42.5 45 Alone, or isolated 10 10 22.5 27.5 25 Late at night 10 20 15 27.5 30 During the day 22.5 25 37.5 50 50 While dressed up 7.5 17.5 15 35 35 While dressed "down" or casually 27.5 35 40 50 47.5
  7. 7. South African Women under age 40: Emotions • Street harassment of any kind seems to result in strong feelings of anger-- but fear and anxiety are primarily rooted in the actions of groping and following/stalking. • Groping/fondling and being followed are the most likely to lead to feelings of depression and to low self esteem. • A common refrain is that women secretly find harassment to be flattering. – Although some women do seem to feel this way, it is a negligible amount • Some women report feeling no emotional reactions to street harassment, although they are the minority. • It is important to distinguish between trends (i.e., street harassment has strong effects on negative emotions) and possibilities/outliers (i.e., some women will indeed feel nothing at all, or even flattered, by it)
  8. 8. South African Women under age 40: Behavioral impact % of respondents saying "yes" Leave/resign your job? 8.33 Not attend/skip work? 8.33 Refuse or not accept work/job? 16.67 Miss school or skip classes? 20.00 Be late to school or work? 26.09 Have to or want to move homes? 54.17 Have to or want to move cities? 50.00 Not go out to a social outing or event (bar, restaurant, movies, etc.)? 54.17 Not go out at night? 66.67 Have to move cities? 12.50 Feel distracted at school or work? 44.00 Change your behavior/relationship with friends or loved ones? 37.50 Choose to take a different route home or to your destination? 84.00 Choose to take different transportation (e.g., call a cab instead of walking/taking the bus)? 70.83 Choose not to show public affection with a partner or significant other? 37.50 Take self-defense classes (formally or on your own) to protect yourself? 40.00 Carry a weapon? 44.00 Change what you were wearing? 80.00 Avoid a city or area? 79.17 Change changed the time you left an event or location? 70.83 Join a support network either online or in person? 20.83 Call the police or security? 25.00 Not socialize or interact with a person? 72.00 Avoid an area of your town or city specifically? 70.83
  9. 9. South African Women under age 40: Behavioral impact • Over half of respondents noted that they changed their clothing, took a different route or transportation, completely avoided an area, changed the time they left an event, or avoided socializing because of street harassment (or the fear of it). • Some (a small amount) of respondents even notes that they resigned a job or skipped work because of harassment. – Half of the respondents even reported having or wanting to move cities. • About 26% of respondents noted that they were late to school or work, which could have major economic effects on both business performance and on personal finances.
  10. 10. South African Women under age 40: Bystanders and communication • The majority of street harassment occurs without witnesses willing to help. – When people do stop to help, it is as likely to make victims feel better as to feel nothing or worse. – In fact, in general, bystanders often--regardless of their intentions to help--make things worse. • Women are more likely to talk to friends than anyone else about their harassment experiences. • Women feel least comfortable talking to individuals with power or status positions about their experiences.
  11. 11. South African women under age 40: General demographic notes • Highly educated with 84% reporting a college degree or higher • Very economically secure with 65% reporting more than average wealth • Somewhat engaged with street harassment (53.8% have visited hollaback online) • See spreadsheet for more demographics