106 Iowa L. Rev. 971 (2021)
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Street harassment is a problem within American society that disproportionately affects people of marginalized identities. Street harassment has no universal definition, but many scholars, activists, and lawmakers agree that street harassment encompasses a sexually- or gender-motivated act, often with an unequal power dynamic between the perpetrator and victim, which occurs in the public. Victims of street harassment suffer severe harms —physical, mental, emotional, economic—that must be addressed and remedied by law. Iowa’s criminal laws regarding harassment, assault, indecent exposure, and stalking are not applicable to typical incidents of street harassment, as victims frequently cannot establish the identity of the perpetrator or their intent. Therefore, Iowa should adopt a street harassment statute similar to Washington, D.C.’s that focuses on prevention education and victim assistance, before resorting to criminalizing the behavior. An education-focused law is promising and frequently cited as the best option to eradicate street harassment. This Note’s proposed law will define both street harassment and “public area;” create an Advisory Committee comprised of Iowa agencies and community representatives that will recommend methods for prevention education; conduct a statewide survey and community safety audits; train police, transit workers, and businesses; and institute a partnership with two Iowa organizations to provide increased victim resources.

Friday, January 15, 2021