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Introducing H.A.R.P: Harassment, Assault and Bodily Autonomy

For many young people across the globe, the transition into adulthood and tertiary education is a joyous experience, while for others it brings along harsh experiences that remind us how unsafe the world can be for vulnerable populations -inclusive of women, differently-abled people, trans folks, non-binary/gender-conforming folks, and so on. Consent is topic that is hardly covered in the many educational settings across the world -for many it’s far too taboo. In reality, consent and bodily autonomy begins well outside the realms of sexual awareness and empowerment. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s sexual violence -which exists when consent is not a prioritized aspect of social interactions.


“Sexual violence“ is an all-encompassing term that describes any kind of sexual abuse, assault and rape -however the technicalities of each of these terms differs by state. Studies have consistently shown that women experience higher rated of sexual violence than men; young adults between 18-34 are at the highest risk and represent 54% of sexual assault cases according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAIN) Statistics. Furthermore, approximately 80% of perpetrators have a pre-existing relationship/acquaintanceship with their victims. Typical harassment includes, but is not limited to, leering, honking, whistling, sexist comments, vulgar gestures, sexually explicit comments, kissing noises, unwelcomed following, blocking of pathways, and even assault.


The Harassment & Assault Reporting Platform (H.AR.P) is a one-stop-shop reporting platform that aims to gather more contextual data, while increasing education and awareness regarding harassment and assault related incidents world-wide. Platform users can submit a harassment/assault, or a police brutality related incident report via the HARPit Buttons. These reports can be submitted by witnesses or survivors of these events. H.A.R.P also has climate surveys that are intended to evaluate the overall sentiments and trends regarding harassment/assault, as well as police brutality across the global community. The ease-of-use and accessibility is a key feature that allows folks to submit reports on the various forms of abuse that may occur, on and off-campus between students, faculty as well as staff, from the comfort of their safe-spaces, or while navigating public spaces. Users can HARPit from anywhere as long as they have internet access. Please take a moment and complete the climate surveys?


When it comes to street and transit harassment, some rideshare apps such as Safr, DriveHER, and Ride Austin operate with the premise of providing increased safety features especially for female passengers: stricter vetting procedures, bystander awareness training, and around-the-clock, real-time monitoring. A rider survey showed that when it comes to the person behind the wheel, women riders want women drivers -nearly 45 % prefer female drivers and only 9%want male drivers.


Although issues of harassment and assault have more to do with human behavior than technology, the solution will require a more integrated approach from both technical and non-technical participants. Engineers, architects, planners, mental health professionals, social-scientists and policy makers must collaborate to create implementable practical solutions. It is imperative to understand human behavior to design smart-solutions that will best suit the end users. Safety features such as well-lit walking paths and transit waiting areas, spacious travel cabins, stricter background checks, easy-to-use incident reporting systems, and security features such as recording devices can make people feel safer and more secure on and off-campus.


Read full article on Street and Transit Harassment here

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