Tired Of Degradation On Streets, They Ask NYC Council For Help

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — For years women and young girls have put up with cat calls, lewd comments and much worse on the streets. Now they’re fighting back stronger than ever.

Grace Tobin is 16 years old and said the subways are the worst when it comes to harassment that’s often sexual.

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“I feel degraded. I feel embarrassed. I feel absolutely helpless,” Tobin told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

“It’s everything from the stares you get to the actual groping on the subway. It really does vary every single day, but I do experience it on an everyday basis and I don’t know one girl in my life or woman who has not experienced it at some point.”

Tobin and many other victims packed a New York City Council hearing Thursday asking for “harassment-free zones” around schools, similar to drug free zones.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports on the push for “harassment-free zones”

Emily May started the group “Hollaback” encouraging women to take pictures and to share their stories.

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“Street harassment is a gateway crime. It creates a culture that makes violence against women okay. It starts with street harassment, but if that’s what you do on the street, what are you doing at home?” May told Hsu.

After years of seeing his mother harassed on the street, 14-year-old Brian Bradley testified Thursday at the hearing.

“I hear stuff – ‘Yo mom,’ ‘What’s good, mom,’ ‘Psss, psss,’ cat calling and stuff like that like she’s an animal. What goes through my heart is that I’m like very mad,” Bradley said.

But he turned his anger into a song and music video called “Stop Looking at My Moms.”

“What I’m going to do to stop it is basically talk to all of the grown men, tell them I don’t like it, no one likes it. If I looked at your mom you wouldn’t like it. So I’m basically trying to change the way men approach women nowadays,” Bradley said.

He and other advocates said the only way to make that change is to take a stand as a community to end street harassment.

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Along with harassment-free zones, many of the women want a city-wide study on the issue and a public service announcement campaign.