HOLLA Canuck: The state of public transit in Ottawa

News from HOLLA Canuck!

See, we’re not the only Holla in Canada; there are also Hollaback! sites in Alberta, Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria, and Winnipeg. (rumours of more Canadian holla-sites to come in a couple months; we’re very excited!)

Right now, Hollaback! Ottawa is working tirelessly to bring light to patterns of  harassment on their city’s public transit:

Harassment on transit is our 2013 priority. In February, we met with City Hall and OC Transpo officials to discuss the issue and sadly, we did not leave there feeling like it was a priority for the City.

On the weekend, a woman spoke to CTV about her experience of being sexually assaulted on an OC Transpo bus. The woman, Kaleigh Langdon, wanted to tell her story in order to alert other women that harassment is happening on transit.

Sadly, news has come out today that there have been a string of assaults on transit that were all committed by the same man. (No word on whether it’s the same man who assaulted Kaleigh).

People who encounter sexual harassment and sexual assault are too-often discouraged from reporting it through official channels, or even talking about it. Fortunately, there is a growing push to bring light to the extent of the problem so that it can be addressed. The recent arrest has added momentum to public attention on this issue.

Hollaback! Ottawa is joining other groups in their area to plan an open forum about harassment on transit. If you know people in Ottawa who should attend, please tell them to get in touch with their local Holla.

Also, if you’re with us in Halifax and have stories about experiencing harassment on our city transit, please consider sharing your story. We believe you, and you are not alone. You can add your story to our map, start a conversation with people who you know (and trust), or reach out to Avalon Sexual Assault Centre for help.

We hope that Ottawa’s City Hall opens their minds and ears; they have a responsibility to keep transit safe and accessible, to facilitate reports of any harassment that does occur, and to invest effort in keeping these assaults from happening in the first place.

Good luck to our sisters in Ottawa; we’ve got your back!

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