In April The Unity Council’s Latinx Mentoring & Achievement (LMA) program, BART, the Alliance for Girls, Betti Ono, and Black Girls Brilliance, launched the Not One More Girl Campaign against violence on public transit for female-identified and gender expansive youth. Throughout the month of April, campaign leaders and local youth hosted activations throughout Oakland to share ways to reimagine safety for riders and end gender-based violence. One campaign goal is to amend BART’s code of conduct to prohibit sexual harassment of BART employees and passengers.
The initiative began in November 2019 when Alliance for Girls and BART reached out to LMA program leaders to conduct focus groups with the youth participants. From the discussion, the youth shared their safety concerns about taking public transit. From groping, public exposure, and sexual remarks from strangers. The youth described they would avoid taking BART whenever possible.
Three LMA youth were later invited to biweekly meetings to brainstorm and help launch the campaign. The campaign’s activation was planned for September 2020, but due to COVID-19 and low ridership, it was postponed until this month. Despite the postponement, two LMA students continued to participate in the Not One More Girl art design, one of which featured Citlalli, a high school senior at Skyline High.
“We decided to move forward on the project because we wanted to reengage the community, our youth, and reimagine how our youth would be safe under COVID,” said Jessica Peregrina, LMA Coordinator. “We wanted our community members to get information on how to stay safe on BART.
The month-long campaign includes posters and billboards installed as public art, distributions of healing kits and BART resources on ways to stay safe riding public transit or what to do in the event of experiencing gender-based trauma, and a virtual watch party where youth will share how they view safety on public transit.
On April 14th, healing kits with face masks, healing crystals, and affirmation cards were distributed at the Fruitvale BART station as transit riders were coming and going from BART or AC Transit. Peregrina was at the event and as she was handing out the resources, riders praised the campaign, as many women shared similar stories of being sexually harassed on public transit.
According to the State of California’s assessment of sexual harassment, 77 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces and 29 percent have experienced it on public transit. Haleema Bharoocha, Senior Advocacy Manager at Alliance for Girls, reported in the April 2nd Not One More Girl press conference that the majority of the youth who participated in the focus group experienced some type of sexual harassment on public transit.
“It reaffirmed our mission to keep our youth, our gender-conformed, and our women safe,” said Peregrina. “We should never have the average rider, a woman or gender-expansive girl think, will I get assaulted today?”