Group targeting street harassment calls for Philly audit of safety concerns

    Walking through the streets of Philadelphia isn’t always easy for those with XX chromosomes.

    Rochelle Keyhan, director of the anti-street harassment group HollabackPHILLY, said many women face threats and unwanted comments in public spaces. She is calling on City Hall to help conduct an in-depth audit of women’s safety concerns.

    Teams of auditors should go to every six-block area in Philadelphia to ask women and the LGBTQ population about “what makes them feel safe or unsafe,” Keyhan suggested. She also wants the auditors to check for abandoned lots, missing streetlights, and other examples of poor urban design that could make women feel vulnerable.

    More than 93 percent of those surveyed by HollabackPHILLY have been harassed on the city’s streets in the past year, according to Keyhan. The group quizzed more than 400 people, mostly women and members of the LGBTQ community, online.

    “Most people said that they were either stared at, leered, followed or sexual comments were made about their bodies, and that it made them angry or frustrated,” Keyhan said.

    She hopes that an audit could eventually make Philly’s streets safer.

    “When you talk to the people experiencing it about what could make them feel safer in those situations, that’s when you’re going to get the best ideas of what to do to end the problem,” she said. “We can all guess, but until you’re talking to someone who’s actually lived it … then you can’t really solve it.”

    Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said the city has no immediate plans to do such an audit. City Council is holding a hearing on street harassment this week.

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