Quinn Announces Plan To Combat Street Harassment And Violence With New Citywide Community Safety Audits & Iphone App For Real-Time Reporting Of Harassment

Christine Quinn, joined by her wife Kim Catullo, Council Member Diana Reyna and Emily May, Executive Director of Hollaback, today unveiled her plan for assessing the safety of neighborhoods across the city, block by block. By gathering information in a coordinated way, the city will be able to better direct resources and more effectively combat harassment. Quinn also presented a new tool, which will allow real-time reporting of sexual harassment via iPhone app.


Quinn stated, “People who violate women either by their actions or words won’t be able to hide any longer. We will know who they are, what they do, where they do it – and we will put it to an end. By coupling valuable information with targeted resources we will arm ourselves with the tools we need to put and end to street violence and harassment. Public spaces belong to all New Yorkers, and street harassment is not a price women and LGBT New Yorkers have to pay for walking around New York City’s neighborhoods.”

Quinn committed to conducting neighborhood audits in order to identify the safety of individual communities and where improvements are needed. The City will work with local community leaders to form teams with a variety of backgrounds and expertise to survey neighborhoods and assess factors impacting safety and the likelihood of street harassment occurring. The surveys will result in increased community engagement and recommendations for concrete improvements specific to each neighborhood’s needs.

Quinn also unveiled a smartphone app that will enable users to report valuable information on harassment in real time. The reporting builds on an existing app run by Hollaback, a nonprofit organization that works to end street harassment. The City Council allocated $20,000 last year towards creating an expanded version of Hollaback’s app. The current app allows users to submit reports of street harassment, assault and violence but is limited to qualitative narratives; expanding the app to include quantitative data will provide new information for evaluation and will allow the city to direct resources where they are most needed.

Information to be collected on the app will include demographics, locational information and information on the specifics of an incident or attack, as well as what, if any, formal reporting process the person went through. With this new tool, New York City will be the first city to undertake an effort to gather the data needed to understand scope of street harassment and how to reduce incidents of harassment. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, non-contact unwanted sexual experiences including street harassment are the most prevalent form of sexual violence for both men and women. According to a joint study conduced by Hollaback and the Worker Institute at Cornell University, 96 percent of respondents reported that they or colleague had been targeted by street harassment, with only five percent reporting the incident to security or a city authority.

Hollaback is a non-profit organization that works to end street harassment and violence by providing training and developing innovative strategies. Since January 2011, Hollaback has trained more than 200 young people to be leaders in their local communities in the effort to end street harassment.