Street harassment, #ItStopsHere, focus for Women's Network PEI

The provincial government is funding a project by Women's Network PEI to reduce street harassment on the Island.

'What people are willing to put up with has changed'

'Sometimes responding to that person in a way that is not just ignoring them or nodding can lead to increased hostility and tension,' says Women's Network PEI's Jillian Kilfoil. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The provincial government is funding a project by Women's Network PEI to reduce street harassment on the Island.

The group is getting $8,150 for the #ItStopsHere campaign.

"Since MeToo we see that the goalposts have shifted in what is acceptable. What people are willing to put up with has changed," said Women's Network PEI executive director Jillian Kilfoil.

"As people respond to MeToo they want to know how can they stand up to violence that they see in the streets and how can we tackle all forms of violence, including street harassment."

'People do want to intervene'

Kilfoil told CBC Radio: Island Morning's Mitch Cormier the idea for the project came from a discussion in the Women's Network PEI office. They were talking about strategies they had developed to stay safe in public spaces.

A new survey found only three per cent of U.S. women under 40 reported finding street harassment flattering. (Feminist Apparel)

"We were kind of shocked that individually we had all come up with similar strategies," she said.

The project will start with gathering information about what the extent of the problem is in the province, with focus groups and an online survey. That will be followed by an information campaign, which will both attempt to discourage the behaviour and suggest ways for people to deal with it.

"Sometimes responding to that person in a way that is not just ignoring them or nodding can lead to increased hostility and tension," said Kilfoil.

"People do want to intervene, but they don't know how to do that in the safest way possible for everyone."

The group is looking for volunteers to take part in focus groups and join the advisory committee for the project.

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