‘Street Harassment is No’ Campaign Mobilizes SPVM, the City of Montreal and STM

‘Street Harassment is No’ Campaign Mobilizes SPVM, the City of Montreal and STM

The City of Montreal, in collaboration with the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), has taken a strong stand against street harassment with the launch of their campaign “Street harassment is no. Witnesses, let’s act.” Street harassment which plagues Montreal including Park Extension has been on the sihts of the SPVM for some time now.

This joint initiative aims to address and denounce street harassment, raise public awareness about the role of witnesses, and equip individuals with the knowledge of how to respond when they witness such incidents. The campaign encompasses various actions, including a poster campaign, the creation of a dedicated website, and awareness-raising initiatives.

Street harassment is a complex issue that encompasses a range of behaviors, some of which may have criminal elements while others are more subtle and normalized. According to a 2022 study by Courcy et al., street harassment includes intrusive, insistent, and unsolicited comments, attitudes, or behaviors made by strangers in public places such as parks, bus stops, subways, bars, or museums. These acts can have sexist, racist, cissexist, heterosexist, classist, ageist, and ableist connotations.

The multifaceted campaign launched by the City of Montreal, the SPVM, and the STM consists of several components aimed at raising awareness and empowering individuals. The campaign will feature visually striking posters with their own unique identity displayed throughout the STM network and public spaces, along with digital media placements. Additionally, a new website, www.temoinsagissons.ca, has been created to define street harassment, provide tools and support for victims, and inform witnesses about the actions they can take. The STM has also taken an internal approach by raising awareness among frontline personnel and customer service, ensuring a compassionate response to victims and providing them with resource cards containing information on support services like Tel-Jeunes, Interligne, and Info help sexual violence.

The campaign extends beyond physical spaces, with posters being placed in libraries, community centers, cultural venues, and sports facilities across the 19 boroughs of Montreal. Looking ahead, the campaign plans to release five awareness videos on the five actions individuals can take as active bystanders. Additionally, awareness and education workshops on the role of active bystanders will be conducted in public places during the spring and summer of 2024.

Key partners involved in this campaign have expressed their commitment to combatting street harassment and creating safe public spaces. Despina Sourias, associate advisor for the status of women, diversity, youth, and seniors on the executive committee of the City of Montreal, emphasized the importance of raising awareness to recognize and address unacceptable behavior. Anouk St-Onge, representing the SPVM’s Prevention and Urban Security Investigation Section, highlighted the significance of reporting incidents of street harassment and assured the public that the police are there to help. Marie-Claude Léonard, General Manager of the STM, stressed the importance of making public transit safe and accessible for all passengers.

The campaign is not just a symbolic gesture but a tangible commitment to action. It aligns with the Safe Cities, Safe Public Spaces Network of UN Women, to prioritize the prevention of gender-based violence and all other forms of violence in public spaces. It is part of a broader effort by the City of Montreal, the SPVM, and the STM to address street harassment and contribute to a safe and inclusive community. The campaign’s content and messages were developed in collaboration with community organizations, ensuring that the specific experiences and realities of people in Montreal’s public spaces are considered.

By launching this campaign, the City of Montreal, the SPVM, and the STM have taken a proactive stance against street harassment. It is a call to action for everyone to recognize the importance of addressing this issue, supporting victims, and creating a society that is respectful and free from discriminatory behavior. Together, through awareness and collective action, we can make a difference and foster supportive and caring communities.