Chaitra “Chai” Shenoy is the co-founder of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, a community-based, volunteer run organization whose aim is to educate and address public sexual harassment and assault in the DC Metro area. Started in April 2009 originally with Holla Back DC!, an online platform which has collected over 500 experiences from DC metro residents experiencing or witnessing street harassment. The organization has presented at national, regional, and local conferences on utilizing social media to affect social change, as well as non-violent strategies to address the harasser.
Chai is also an attorney representing sexual assault survivors with their civil legal needs which include obtaining civil protection orders, representation at university and public school educational hearings, advocating with housing and criminal justice authorities, and providing assistance with immigration and family law relief.
In addition, Chai is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Women’s Studies program, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on gender-based violence.
Previously, Chai was a Georgetown University Law School Women’s Law and Public Policy fellow at Break the Cycle. As a policy attorney, she represented minors in obtaining civil protection orders. She also drafted national and local policies on dating violence and sexual violence for school districts to adopt. Chai also worked at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office as the Domestic Violence Policy Analyst. During her time there, Chai authored Hidden in Plain Sight: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the New York City Subways, a report that studied the prevalence of sexual violence occurring in New York City subways trains and stations. The report garnered media attention prompting NYC’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to issue public service advertisements encouraging people to report sexual assault or sexual harassment to transit workers or law enforcement.
Chai received her B.A. at UCLA and her J.D. at American University, Washington College of Law.
Sub-specialties: Non-profit management, gender-based violence law, policy research & writing, coalition & community building, social media
D.C. Metro Combats Sexual Harassment, Urges Riders To Speak Up
NPR [May 1, 2014]
It Really Takes A Village to Make Culture Change
Huffington Post [June 14, 2014]
Washington Post Magazine
Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Spaces Safe and Welcoming for Women (by Holly Kearl)