Civic News

Yasmine Mustafa: ‘No one should be afraid while trying to earn a wage’

The CEO of wearable safety company ROAR for Good delivered a TEDxPhiladelphiaWomen talk on the #HandsOffPantsOn movement, which calls for protections against sexual harassment for hospitality workers.

On stage, Mustafa also shared her immigration story. (Screenshot via YouTube)

While #MeToo and #TimesUp shaped much of public discourse over the past year, another — perhaps lesser-known — hashtag looks to put an end to the quiet suffering of hotel industry employees.

With #HandsOffPantsOn, activists are trying to put an end to sexual violence, harassment and overall unsafe working conditions for hotel industry workers. In a recently published TEDxPhiladelphiaWomen talk from December, ROAR for Good founder Yasmine Mustafa — whose Center City company makes a wearable safety device called Athena —shines a light on the movement.

“Almost 60 percent of housekeepers have experienced sexual harassment,” Mustafa said. “Many of them are women of color and immigrants. They’re paid by the hour. English is their second language. At work, they’re cornered in the room by the male guests. They’re grabbed or touched, even solicited for sex acts. Guests open the door completely naked, expose themselves even masturbate in front of them.”

In her talk, Mustafa spoke about legislation initiatives that can help, like a 2018 Chicago ordinance requiring hotels to create special protections to keep staffers safe from harassment.

“Representation matter a great deal in this case,” said Mustafa. “The #MeToo movement was led by Tarana Burke, an African American woman. The lobbying for protections for housekeepers has been happening for years in the background, and that was also led primarily by women of color. We need more diverse lawmakers.”

Watch the talk below:


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