California state lawmakers unveil bills to combat violence, harassment in public spaces
California state lawmakers introduced two bills on Thursday to address harassment and violence against women and vulnerable groups in public spaces.
The legislators are working alongside nonprofit groups Stop AAPI Hate and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative on the initiatives, which advocates say are the first in the country to look at street discrimination and harassment as a public health issue, according to NBC News.
The first bill seeks to protect women and vulnerable groups from harassment on public transit and was introduced by California state Sen. Dave Min (D). It would require the state’s 10 largest transit districts to study and provide data-based plans to promote safety, NBC reported.
“From the first mile to the last, no Californian should feel unsafe traveling to work, to school, or anywhere,” Min said in a statement, according to the outlet. “This bill will help restore confidence in the safety of public transportation so that everyone — especially women and minorities — can ride from one place to the next without fear.”
The second bill, introduced by Democratic California Assembly members Mia Bonta and Akilah Weber, would require the state’s public health department to run a multiyear campaign about street harassment, according to NBC.
“Everyone has a right to move freely and have a sense of peace while in public spaces, streets and sidewalks,” Weber told NBC. “The reality is street harassment against women and vulnerable communities is all too common and is rarely addressed by current laws.”
The bills come as hate crimes against Asian Americans have drastically increased in the past year.
Last month, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism released data showing anti-Asian hate crimes were up by 339 percent in 2021 when compared to 2020. Similar numbers were also reported in New York and San Francisco.