Conceptualising justice and street harassment: victim-centred perspectives

Dr Bianca Fileborn1

1University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Street harassment represents one of the most pervasive forms of gendered violence, with the vast majority of women and LGBTQ+ people reporting having experienced harassment in public spaces. Traditionally, street harassment has been trivialised as a form of harm and is often positioned as a ‘normal’ and everyday occurrence. However, thanks to ongoing feminist activism, the construction of street harassment as ‘trivial’ is beginning to change. As a result, we have witnessed the introduction of legislation targeting specific forms of street harassment in countries including France, Portugal, and Belgium, while debate is ongoing regarding the need for similar legislation in the UK.

While such developments seem positive on the face of it, we know little about how individuals who experience street harassment understand the concept justice, or the types of responses they require to feel as though justice has been achieved. The general absence of policy and practice-based responses to street harassment presents an opportunity to use victims’ justice-interests as the starting point for developing responses. In this presentation, I draw on findings from interviews with 48 participants from NSW and VIC on their understandings of ‘justice’ and their preferred justice responses to street harassment. I argue that their understandings of justice are diverse and are not reflected through a criminal legal response. Rather, findings suggest the need to develop transformative and prevention-focused responses to street harassment.


Dr Bianca Fileborn (she/they) is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and DECRA Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. Her current research examines victim-centred justice responses to street harassment, sexual violence and LGBTQ+ people, and harassment in rideshare and taxi services.


Dec 10 2021