Hollaback: Curb Catcalls With iPhone App

PHOTO: Hollaback is just one of thousands of applications for iPhones, Android phones and other smartphones. Hollaback: Curb Catcalls With iPhone App

Next time you're walking down the street and someone throws a lewd comment your way, you don't have to just take it, you can "hollaback."

A new mobile application for iPhones and Android phones takes on curbside catcallers and lets victims of street harassment report verbal abuse, flashing, groping and other kinds of assaults on the go.

"We have addressed workplace harassment, right? And workplace harassment isn't any different from street harassment. It's still harassment and it certainly doesn't hurt any less," said Emily May, 29, the executive director of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Hollaback, which launched the application this week. "(We) addressed workplace harassment 20 years ago and the reason was that we could sue the pants off these companies. But when it comes to street harassment, we can't sue the pants off the sidewalks."

So to tackle street harassment, she said, activists need to bring the latest technology to bear.

The new application, which costs 99 cents in Apple's App Store and $1.00 in the Android Marketplace, lets women (and men) immediately report street harassment incidents. It then maps the geo-tagged reports in real-time.

It also sends a follow-up e-mail to the user asking for more information about the event so that a more detailed account can be added to the database.

"We're transforming an experience that's totally isolating into something that's sharable," May said. "We can share our stories and bring awareness to this."

Momentum behind the movement to end street harassment seems to be growing. About two weeks ago, a New York City Council committee heard testimony on the issue and May said she has support from around the world.

The iPhone application not only empowers women and victims of harassment, it also helps document the incidents, which could ultimately push lawmakers to action, she said.

"When you Hollaback, when I Hollaback. I do it for two reasons: One is for me, it's about that empowered response, it's about not having to be silenced, and the other reason is for the world," she said.

May said she has a social policy degree from the London School of Economics and the policy wonk in her can't wait to gather all the data, cut it along district lines and then share it with legislatures.

"If we don't have data, if we can't show that this exists, we're not going to be able to get the legislators' ears in any way, shape or form," she said. "It's going to be the same that it always was; that street harassment is just this weird word that nobody's ever heard of. But I think that Hollaback and all the people who use the app are changing that."

Hollaback is just one of thousands of applications for iPhones, Android phones and other smartphones.

Take a look at a few others below:

Bed Bug Alert Tracks Outbreaks

If a fear of bed bugs is keeping you housebound, an iPhone app developer has the solution for you.

Launched in October, Bed Bug Alert lets users search for and report bed bug outbreaks in their area.

On your way to a movie but worried that you might end up itchy? About to book a hotel room but afraid you'll come home with a suitcase full of the persistent pests?

For $1.99, you can download the application and search any location in the country to see if anyone has reported an infestation or search the directory to find outbreaks near any place you plan to go.

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