The Transnational Anti-Street Harassment Movement: Everyday insecurities and security practitioners from London to Cairo

Karen Desborough and Jutta Weldes (University of Bristol) and Elisa Wynne-Hughes (University of Cardiff)

This project is made up of several initiatives

ESRC Project:

As part  of a wider ESRC-funded research project entitled ‘Transforming Insecurity from the Grassroots’ (PI Eric Herring, Bristol), we examined everyday security and collaborative practices of anti-street harassment groups internationally, including in Egypt, India, the UK and the USA. Jutta was Co-Investigator, Karen was Research Assistant and Elisa was a research collaborator on this project.  Jutta and Karen are currently writing an article entitled ‘Combatting Insecurity in the Everyday: The Global Anti-Street Harassment Movement as Security Practitioners’.

Karen's PhD Project:

Karen’s PhD project ‘The Global Anti-Street Harassment Movement: A Feminist Politics of Resistance’ examines the emergence, development and impact of the movement.

Elisa's Projects in Cairo:

  • One of these projects examines how harassment is represented in tourism guidebooks, leading to an article, ‘Flirtation and Fear: Gendered Tourism, Transnational Terrorism’, which examines how representations of street harassment in tourism guidebooks legitimise international and Egyptian security policies that target ‘bad’ Arab/Muslim males as (sexually) threatening. This paper has been presented at the 2015 International Studies Association Convention and the 2014 European Consortium for Political Research Conference.
  • The other project studies the post-2011 campaigns by various groups to tackle street harassment in a way that avoids state violence and the disciplining of women’s public roles. Instead, these groups focus on ending the social acceptability of sexual harassment by targeting day-to-day practices in the streets of Cairo. The article, ‘Self-Governance in Zero-Tolerance Zones: the spatial politics of stop street harassment campaigns in Cairo’, examines these spatial tactics to understand the potentially emancipatory and exclusionary potentials of such localised governance and security strategies. This paper has been presented at the 2016 Pan-European Conference on International Relations and the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting. This project has received funding from the Cardiff University ESRC Impact Acceleration and Crime and Security Research Institute.

ISRF Project:

An ISRF-funded project conducted by Elisa, Jutta and Karen that compares the strategies of anti-street harassment groups in London (Hollaback!) and Cairo (HarassMap) to address and combat street harassment in different contexts. This collaborative research involved a workshop in Cairo on 31 March 2016, which brought together members of both groups to look at who is potentially included and excluded through their various tactics. The workshop asked how these groups could target and reach a diverse audience of harassers, bystanders and victims/survivors of harassment. Based on the needs previously identified by these groups, the workshop aimed to collectively develop ideas for future strategies that are as inclusive as possible, taking into account diversity along the lines of gender, race, class, sexuality and age. Lively discussions took place which covered the similarities and differences in the challenges faced in countering myths around street harassment; the role of social media in attracting selective audiences; and the barriers to participation for more marginalised communities. Based on this research and follow-up interviews, Elisa, Jutta and Karen will write a report and a journal article to be presented to the anti-street harassment groups and at the Pan-European Conference of the European International Studies Association in September 2016. The workshop programme can be found here: GRC Cairo Workshop Programme 2016 (PDF, 439kB) 

Cairo Workshop photographs


Anti-Street Harassment Project publications/papers

Elisa Wynne-Hughes, Jutta Weldes and Karen Desborough, ‘Street harassment and everyday in/security strategies in London and Cairo: ‘Inclusions, exclusions and negotiations with the state,’ paper presented at the European Workshops in International Studies, Cardiff, 8-9 June 2017, at the British International Studies Association Conference, Brighton, 13-16 June 2017, and a revised version at the European International Studies Association Annual Conference, Barcelona, 13-16 September 2017. 

Elisa Wynne-Hughes, ‘Self-governance in Zero-Tolerance Zones: The spatial politics of stop street harassment campaigns in Cairo,’ paper presented at the British International Studies Association Conference, Brighton, 13-16 June 2017.

Karen Desborough, Jutta Weldes and Elisa Wynne-Hughes, ‘Street Harassment and Everyday In/security Strategies in London and Cairo: Inclusions, Exclusions and Constraints’, paper presented at the Global (In-)Securities Conference, Global Studies Association, Belfast, 29 June-1 July 2016.

Karen Desborough and Jutta Weldes,' Combatting insecurity in the everyday: The global anti-street harassment movement,’ paper presented at the ‘Everyday Insecurities and Vulnerabilities’ workshop‘University of Glasgow, 30 April-1 May 2015.

‌The project is funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation Flexible Grant for Small Groups, Cardiff University ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, and the Cardiff University Crime and Security Research Institute 

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