Campaigns, Events, News, The Movement

Awesome Con Awesomely Tackles Convention Harassment

Cross-Posted from GeeksForCONsent, originally published on April 14, 2014.

Sexual harassment and groping at comic conventions is a serious problem that has received increased attention in recent months. Awesome Con, a crowdfunded, by-the-fans, for-the-fans convention, responded to reported harassment at their first convention last year by creating an anti-harassment policy and procedures for dealing with harassment, training their volunteers, and partnering with GeeksForCONsent to provide an in-house, trauma-informed team to provide resources to attendees.

Unlike harassment in public spaces, conventions are private events. There are rules in place, and they should extend to include and address harassment. GeeksForCONsent (affiliated with HollabackPHILLY) is a safe haven for victims of convention related harassment to build community and organize to influence conventions to improve and enforce anti-harassment policies.

The team has collected stories at conventions across the U.S., revealing that con harassment encompasses crude comments, sexual requests, physical harassment, unpermitted and sexually explicit photographs (upskirt shots, “creeper shots”, etc) and misuse of photographs on social media. This harassment leaves cosplayers feeling objectified and humiliated. Despite this, most mainstream conventions continue to resist instituting specific policies designed to hold harassers accountable. Their inaction leaves the targets of harassment feeling even more vulnerable and discouraged.

awesome con

“We are excited to partner with a forward thinking convention who, not immune to harassment itself, decided to do something about it this year,” said Erin Filson, Creative Director of GeeksForCONsent, of their partnership with Awesome Con DC this weekend (April 18-20). “We worked with Awesome Con to train their volunteers to respond to harassment situations, and will be on hand to provide resources and support to anyone who is harassed, or wants to talk about harassment they’ve experienced at other, less-progressive conventions.” GeeksForCONsent will have a prominent table in Artist Alley, where they will share anti-harassment resources, assist volunteers, and provide a safe space for con-goers to share stories.

The GeeksForCONsent team’s efforts include auditing convention harassment policies, determining whether or not those policies are enforced, and especially focusing on whether volunteers are trained/equipped to deal with reports of harassment. The end goal is not to criticize conventions, but to work together to come up with a comprehensive plan to actually create these conventions as safer spaces.

To learn more about their efforts, or to join them at conventions, visit GeeksForCONsent.org, or email GeeksForCONsent@gmail.com

 

CONTACTS:

Rochelle Keyhan

Director, Geeks for CONsent

GeeksForCONsent@gmail.com

 

About Geeks for CONsent:

As experts in dealing with harassment, training women and LGBTQ folks in coping and responding to harassment, and training people how not to harass, the GeeksForCONsent team has been conducting workshops on gender-based harassment and better ways of communicating with each other in public for over 3 years. The GeeksForCONsent team spread the Cosplay =/= CONsent message by tabling at Wizard World Philadelphia in 2013 and Locust Moon Fest 2013; presenting a panel at GeekGirlCon 2013; and interviewing cosplayers at Baltimore Comic Con 2013, Boston Comic Con, MicExpo and New York Comic Con 2013. Cosplayers have signed petitions, sent in photographs, and provided video testimony of their comic-con harassment experiences – all empowering our mission to hold conventions accountable for making their conventions safe and inclusive spaces for EVERYONE in attendance. Our  training manual is being used to train all the Awesome Con 2014 volunteers – and GeeksForCONsent will be the in-house anti-harassment team at the convention.

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Campaigns, Events, The Movement

Philly Cleanup Sweeps Up Street Harassment (April 5, 2pm at Love Park)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – April 4, 2014 – On Saturday, April 5, the city of Philadelphia will kick off its 7th annual Philly Spring Cleanup.  But there is more than just litter polluting our streets.

When the city ends its clean-up on Saturday at 2pm, members FAAN! (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now!), HollabackPHILLY and their allies will gather in Love Park to “keep up the sweep up” and invite the city to help us clean up street harassment.  We will reclaim public space through street theater, double dutch, chalking, drumming, dance, costumes, a storytelling “soap box” and more. This event is part of a week long global campaign involving 24 other countries called “Meet Us On The Street: International Anti Street Harassment Week.”

Street harassment is a pervasive yet normalized problem facing people in Philadelphia and worldwide. In a 2013 survey conducted by HollabackPHILLY, 93% of respondents experienced harassment in the last year. 60% of those surveyed reported being harassed on a daily basis and 54% experienced harassment on their way to or from school or work, including catcalls, sexually explicit comments, sexist remarks, groping, leering, stalking, public masturbation, and assault. The LGBT community also faces this problem in record numbers. “Street harassment limits mobility, is a form of gender violence and violates human rights,” says FAAN organizer Chantelle Bateman.  Even Philadelphia’s law-makers recognize street harassment as a serious issue in our city, committing to actively work on our City’s street harassment problem after a City Hall Hearing on the issue last November.kapow logo.JPG

Contact:

Nuala Cabral                            Rochelle Keyhan

Founder, FAAN!                       HollabackPHILLY

Ncabral@gmail.com                philly@ihollaback.org

(401) 439-7650

FAAN (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now!)  is a media literacy and activism project formed by young women of color in Philadelphia. Together with our allies, we seek to critique and create media, so that more diverse, fair and fully human representations of who we are exist. (FAAN is also known as FAAN Mail.)

HollabackPHILLY is the local branch of a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world.  We work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations, and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces.

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Events

Anti-Street Harassment Week 2014 Event Line-Up!

It’s that time of year again and the activist community in Philadelphia is banding together to speak out against street harassment! Below is a list of events scheduled for this week, and ways you can get involved! We also listed a few next week, as well! Let us know if we missed anything and we’ll add it to the list philly@ihollaback.org!

Our big news — the new, expanded run of our ad campaign launches on April 1, 2014! Be sure to keep your eyes out at bus shelters, in subway stations, and inside the subway cars on both the Broad Street and Market Frankford subway lines, and let us know what you think!

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Campaigns, Events, News, Resources, The Movement

Human Trafficking in the USA: Daniel Velez, “The Federal Response to Human Trafficking in the United States”.

Join us February 27, 2014 from 12:30 to 5:30 pm for a TEDx style event discussing the complexities and nuances of human trafficking in the United States. Learn about the extent and scope of the human trafficking happening right here in our own backyards, the warning signs, what you can do to help. Coffee and light refreshments available during event, and cocktail hour with speakers follows event for all attendees. TICKETS REQUIRED.

Introducing Speaker:

Assistant US Attorney Daniel Velez

 This talk will not be available on the livestream, only at the live event.

After five years trying felony level cases at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Velez moved to the criminal section of the civil rights division of the US Department of Justice. At the USDOJ he investigated and prosecuted hate crimes, human trafficking claims, and other crimes implicating peoples’ civil rights, like violence at abortion clinics or instances of police using excessive force. Now an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennyslvania, Velez primarily focuses on organized crime with international ties.

Velez’s experience with trafficking cases started when he was at the USDOJ, and continues through to his work at the US Attorney’s office. One notable, recent case involved a human trafficking ring organized by a family of five Ukranian brothers in Northeast Philadelphia. They smuggled young Ukranian immigrants into the United States and forced them to work for no, or very little, pay. Their human trafficking ring operated over the course of several years between 2000 and 2007. People were lured to America under promises that they would be provided immigration paperwork, stable employment and room and board. In reality, people were smuggled into the United States through the Mexico-California border, brought to Philadelphia where they were housed five-to-a-room where they slept on dirty mattresses on the floor, and denied payment for the work they were forced to complete.

“The brothers used physical force, threats of force, sexual assault, and debt bondage to keep the victims in involuntary servitude. The brothers also threatened violence to the workers’ families who still residing in Ukraine. Two female workers testified at trial that Omelyan Botsvynyuk brutally raped them on several occasions.” When asked by press about the case, Velez said:

the Botsvynyuk organization made false promises of good-paying jobs, room and board. Instead, victims were threatened, beaten and held in involuntary servitude.

“This is the type of crime that hides in plain sight. It could be in a restaurant or in a store. In this particular case, these were folks working at a Walmart and Target and cleaning the floors.”

Join us on February 27, 2014 to hear Assistant US Attorney Daniel Velez talk about the federal response to human trafficking in the United States.

 

 

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Campaigns, Events, Resources, The Movement

Human Trafficking in the USA: Jen Horwitz – PA’s Policy Agenda

Join us February 27, 2014 from 12:30 to 5:30 pm for a TEDx style event discussing the complexities and nuances of human trafficking in the United States. Learn about the extent and scope of the human trafficking happening right here in our own backyards, the warning signs, what you can do to help. Coffee and light refreshments available during event, and cocktail hour with speakers follows event for all attendees. TICKETS REQUIRED.

 

Introducing Speaker: Jennifer Horwitz

Jennifer Horwitz is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Women’s Way. In this role, Horwitz oversees the organization’s public policy and advocacy initiatives, including lobbying, issue campaign development, and cultivating and sustaining community relationships. Jen has a background in government relations, grassroots advocacy, campaign strategy development, policy research, media advocacy, fundraising, and project management. Prior to joining WOMEN’S WAY, Jen worked for Amnesty International USA, The ALS Association of Western Pennsylvania, and the American Cancer Society.

In her capacity as Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Horwitz has testified at numerous government hearings about gender-based violence, including the Philadelphia City Council’s 2012 hearing on human trafficking, 2013 hearing on street harassment and the efficacy of gender-based safety audits, and she has coordinated numerous efforts that correspond with statewide bills to improve our state’s approach to human trafficking within our borders.

Join us to hear Horwitz’s talk about the anti-trafficking policy efforts in Pennsylvania to provide better resources for survivors and better policies for law enforcement officials to effectively end human trafficking.

 

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Campaigns, Events, News, Resources, The Movement

Human Trafficking in the USA: Lynly Egyes, Trafficking Survivors and LGBTQ Communities

Join us February 27, 2014 from 12:30 to 5:30 pm for a TEDx style event discussing the complexities and nuances of human trafficking in the United States. Learn about the extent and scope of the human trafficking happening right here in our own backyards, the warning signs, what you can do to help. Coffee and light refreshments available during event, and cocktail hour with speakers follows event for all attendees. TICKETS REQUIRED.

 

Introducing Speaker: Lynly Egyes

Lynly S. Egyes, Esq. is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Sex Workers Project in New York. Lynly provides legal advocacy, advice, and information to sex workers and survivors of human trafficking on a variety of issues, including immigration, criminal law, civil consequences of convictions and public benefits. Prior to joining the Sex Workers Project, Lynly’s career has focused on helping people in the margins, with a special emphasis on youth, LGBT and immigrants’ rights. She also managed the student leadership program at the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.

We are excited to announce Egyes’ talk about victims of human trafficking with a focus on the marginalization of LGBT victims. Her outspoken advocacy for the recognition and attention to the unique ways members of LGBT communities experience gender-based violence has led to talks at conferences and been profiled in the media.

 

 

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Campaigns, Events, News, Resources, The Movement

Human Trafficking in USA: Sarah Deer, Human Trafficking, Tribal Law, and Native Women

Join us February 27, 2014 from 12:30 to 5:30 pm for a TEDx style event discussing the complexities and nuances of human trafficking in the United States. Learn about the extent and scope of the human trafficking happening right here in our own backyards, the warning signs, what you can do to help. Coffee and light refreshments available during event, and cocktail hour with speakers follows event for all attendees. TICKETS REQUIRED.

Introducing Speaker: Sarah Deer

A member of  the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Sarah Deer focuses her legal work on violent crime on Indian reservations. She has co-authored two textbooks on tribal law and several academic articles on Native American women, and will be speaking at the conference about the trafficking of native women, and resulting legal and jurisdictional issues native women face when attempting to seek justice. To learn more about her work, read her article at Indian Country Today Media Network, referencing an Amnesty International Report, Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence, in which she is frequently cited.

In 2013, Sarah Deer was named chair of a U.S. Department of Justice federal advisory committee designed to develop protocol for responding to sexual assault in tribal communities. She was appointed chair of the Office for Victims of Crime’s “National Coordination Committee on the American Indian/Alaska Native Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Sexual Assault Response Team (AI/AN SANE-SART) Initiative.” The goals of the committee are to “make recommendations to the Department of Justice for improving response to rape in tribal communities,” Deer said. “I hope that our recommendations will help shape policy for years to come.”

We are excited and honored to welcome her to the speaker series on Trafficking in the United States. Her experience and outspoken advocacy as an Indigenous Feminist will elevate the conversation about human trafficking, and the necessary sensitivity and awareness we all must bring with us to the table when discussing human trafficking and the various nuances in experiences of the survivors.

To learn more about Sarah Deer, visit her faculty biography page at William Mitchell College of Law.

 

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Campaigns, Events, Resources, The Movement

Human Trafficking in the USA: Jennifer Long, Human Trafficking and the Spectrum of Gender-Based Violence

Join us February 27, 2014 from 12:30 to 5:30 pm for a TEDx style event discussing the complexities and nuances of human trafficking in the United States. Learn about the extent and scope of the human trafficking happening right here in our own backyards, the warning signs, what you can do to help. Coffee and light refreshments available during event, and cocktail hour with speakers follows event for all attendees. TICKETS REQUIRED.

Introducing Speaker: Jennifer Gentile Long

Jennifer Gentile Long is the Director of AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women. As Director, she supervises, provides, and participates in training events, resource development, case consultation, and the delivery of technical assistance to civilian and military prosecutors and allied professionals. Before her appointment as Director of NCPVAW, she served as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she prosecuted cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and child physical and sexual abuse.

To learn more about Long’s work, read her piece through the American Prosecutors Research Institute, “Prosecuting Intimate Partner Sexual Assault”. She also speaks publicly about these issues to educate the public, and was interviewed on ESPN in a piece about SMU runner Monika Korra, a survivor of rape, and survivor’s breaking the silence.

We are honored to welcome her to the speaker roster at the speaker series, Trafficking in the United States. Her experience working with as a prosecutor, and training prosecutors and service providers across the country, including work on policy and systemic change, will provide a nuanced perspective about the various intersections of gender-based violence and why they all need to be approached with the same degree of sensitivity and impassioned advocacy.

To learn more about Long’s perspective, read her piece at Trust Women.

 

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Campaigns, Events, Resources, The Movement

Human Trafficking in the USA: John O’Neill, Dispelling Myths Surrounding Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Join us February 27, 2014 from 12:30 to 5:30 pm for a TEDx style event discussing the complexities and nuances of human trafficking in the United States. Learn about the extent and scope of the human trafficking happening right here in our own backyards, the warning signs, what you can do to help. Coffee and light refreshments available during event, and cocktail hour with speakers follows event for all attendees. TICKETS REQUIRED.

Introducing Speaker: John O’Neill

John O’Neill is a homicide prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Formerly a prosecutor in the Family Violence and Sexual Assault unit, O’Neill handled numerous high profile cases, including Marcus Comacho, dubbed the “Kensington Rapist”. Camacho faced three separate trials, the jury unable to reach a unanimous verdict until the third trial where he was convicted of three counts of rape, and sentenced to over 50 years in prison.

O’Neill’s passionate, empathetic approach to fighting for the victims on his cases extends beyond powerful advocacy in court. He also works tirelessly to ensure his victims are protected throughout the difficult and stressful trial process. He also went above and beyond for his victims with disabilities, who are even less likely to be comfortable expressing themselves in court, making sure their voices are heard.

Join us to hear O’Neill clarify the very engrained myths about prostitution and human trafficking during his talk, “How They Got There: dispelling myths about prostitution and sex trafficking”.

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Campaigns, Events, Resources, The Movement

Human Trafficking in the USA: Tina Frundt, Sex Trafficking in the USA, a Survivor’s Perspective

Join us February 27, 2014 from 12:30 to 5:30 pm for a TEDx style event discussing the complexities and nuances of human trafficking in the United States. Learn about the extent and scope of the human trafficking happening right here in our own backyards, the warning signs, what you can do to help. Coffee and light refreshments available during event, and cocktail hour with speakers follows event for all attendees. TICKETS REQUIRED.

 

Introducing Speaker: Tina Frundt

Tina Frundt, a survivor of human trafficking, and Frederick Douglass Award winner, is the founder of Courtney’s House, which searches for children forced into sex trafficking, brings them in to a safe environment free from the trafficking, and aims to educate and train communities and officials about the realities  of sex trafficking that happens in our own backyards.

At Courtney’s House they provide a safe space for survivors, as well as services to help them recover and heal, and utilizing methods that have been proven successful in the trauma recovery of U.S. children and teens who were victims of domestic sex trafficking as minors. The Survivor’s Corner features art and poetry from survivors who are going through this recovery process at Courtney’s House, and is a powerful testament to Frundt’s incredible and compassionate work.

We are excited to introduce Frundt as one of our speakers at the February 27 anti-trafficking event. She will be speaking about her experiences with trafficking, both at the survivor and service provider levels. To learn more visit her blog, Tina’s Voice.

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