When CBS news correspondent Lara Logan was sexually attacked last month in Cairo, it made global headlines. But whether it is cat calling or something much worse, sexual harassment in public is the norm for women worldwide. Numerous surveys find women cannot escape verbal abuse, and a shockingly high percentage has suffered physical abuse in trains, buses or other crowded public spaces. Female business travelers, often on the road alone, typically bear the indignation rather than report the incident to authorities or employers. Now that attitude is changing.

Last week, travel columnist Joe Sharkey of The New York Times reported on a new movement driven by women around the world that draws attention to street harassment.  This burgeoning effort aims to use social networking and mobile technology to expose the location and nature of street harassment in a bid to end it. He cites three specific online and mobile initiatives trying to make a difference:

Ihollaback.org is a new website that encourages women to share stories and details of street harassment, and the incidents are then placed on a map. The site is using social networking, blogs, apps and maps to build a case that street harassment is a worldwide problem.

Smartwomentravelers.com  is the work of a business consultant who has been victimized while traveling, and believes that the specter of sexual harassment inhibits many women from truly enjoying their destinations when traveling alone.

Stopstreetharassment.com  offers suggestions for ways women can deal with street harassment on an individual and grassroots level, including tips for what to do in the moment, how to be prepared and how to recover.

This groundswell has the feel of a long overdue revolution. Let’s help human dignity take a giant stride forward and heed the call to action sounded by these sites—“Join an international movement of women and men who are working to make public places safe and welcoming for women.”     

Photo by Alex Castro.

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About The Author

Christie Erdman, a guest contributor to the Healthy Travel blog, is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond with a degree in Economics and Marketing. She enjoys traveling, and had the opportunity to spend a semester studying at Universita Bocconi in Milan, Italy during her junior year.

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