Pic: Valentina Colo
A new online portal has been launched in Hackney to ask women where they feel the most unsafe in the borough.
The portal, together with a new accreditation scheme for late night venues who commit to train their staff on how to respond to sexual harassment and assault, is part of the work the council is doing to tackle gender-based violence.
In the year leading up to March 2020, 4.9 million women in the UK were sexually assaulted. 70% of women around the country report having experienced sexual harassment in a public space throughout their lives. 9 out of 10 say that they do not feel safe walking home at night.
“We need to remember that behind these statistics there are individuals and families that are grieving for their loved ones,” said Councillor Fajana-Thomas during the launch meeting for the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence in the borough.
“It is more important than ever that we take a stand against violence and abuse towards women and girls in our society. This issue has been starkly highlighted in recent months by the horrendous killings of women such as Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa,” said the councillor.
The portal consists of an interactive map and survey. Users will be able to drop a pin on the borough’s map in a place where they have felt unsafe. They will then have to answer a few questions about that place and suggest what could be done to prevent others experiencing the same.
This could be anything from improving street lighting to installing additional CCTV cameras, to pruning bushes and hedges.
For example, an anonymous user said: “I was attacked on Horton Road and the police told me they couldn’t do anything as no witness and no cctv…”
Someone else suggested that the introduction of LTNs around Forest Road in Dalston concerns them as “after dark, not having so many people or traffic around makes me feel unsafe.”
“The feedback will allow the council to put mitigation in place over the next year to help women and girls feel safer in public spaces,” said a council spokesperson in a press release. Residents have until January 25 to have their say.
According to Detective Constable Inspector Azad Odabashian, “Shoreditch and the late-night economy have been identified as areas where there is increased vulnerability.” To tackle this, the council will launch a new accreditation scheme for late night venues that join the council in the effort to make Hackney a safer place for women.
The accreditation will be part of the Hackney Nights initiative to promote safety in the night-time economy. To receive the accreditation, venues will have to demonstrate that they are a safe place for women, that their staff has taken part in free training session provided by Good Night Out and that they are aware of initiatives such as Ask for Angela.
Bryony Beynon, Good Night Out campaign co-founder told Eastlondonlines: “Since we started working with Hackney, we have delivered eight 2.5 hour workshops… We have trained 180 Hackney nightlife staff under this scheme and many more prior to this.”
Amhurst Road after dark. Pic: Valentina Colo
“Measuring prevention of gender-based violence is incredibly difficult, but the staff that we have trained in Hackney are universally enthusiastic and understanding of how crucial a supportive and believing response is.” said Beynon.
Mayor of Hackney, Phillip Glanville, said during the meeting: “The conversation around public space isn’t just about women keeping themselves safe.”
“We need to make sure that the behaviour of men changes, that we educate each other and we actually deliver the change that women have been campaigning for.”