The most dangerous word is ‘Just’
Evidence suggests street and sexual harassment have worsened during lockdown. The majority of that harassment will go unreported so there will be no response and little can be done to fight it. Something has to change if increased harassment is not going to be part of the ‘new normal’.
In response, Safe & The City is launching a new campaign to drive reporting of sexual harassment and raise funds for tools that will make it easier for charities and other organisations to act on reports and not let another lockdown increase rates of abuse and its tolerance. Safe & the City has been involved in a number of initiatives, including official supporters of MP Stella Creasy’s Misogyny as a Hate Crime Bill, UN Women UK’s Safer Cities for Women and Girls and the Mayor of London’s Night Safety Charter. The information from their free iOS and Android app is already anonymously shared with the London Metropolitan Police to improve safeguarding but there is more work to be done.
The campaign The Most Dangerous Word is ‘Just’ centres on the fact that millions of incidents of harassment are minimised, not reported, as we tell ourselves and others reinforce it as ‘just’ a comment, or ‘just’ a joke. According to a national survey an estimated 85% of young women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment, and according to TfL 90% of these remain unreported.
Alongside this activity to drive reporting Safe & The City is seeking to raise £15,000 via Crowdfunder to develop a tool to help charities act on the data gathered. Currently, where and when harassment happens is hard to assess making proactive reduction challenging. This tool will help charities develop targeted solutions, stop incidents, and lobby for wider policy change to protect the most vulnerable.
One such organisation supporting the campaign is the Women’s Equality Party Lambeth.
Emily Reddon, Women’s Equality Party Lambeth said: “To make change we need to paint a picture of what street harassment looks like in our local areas. That’s where information from Safe & the City would be a gamechanger. To understand what people are experiencing, how often, where, which would allow us to make targeted interventions.”
Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder & CEO said: “We are in unprecedented times where we also have more opportunities to change things for the better. This includes addressing the personal safety of many who experience sexual and street harassment, many which escalate into other crimes. This campaign comes at an important time to make a statement that the new normal will have to be better than where we left off. Safe & the City is excited to continue to be a part of this movement ahead.”
Safe & The City have already made impactful changes through the insights collected including working with the Metropolitan Police, Uber UK and UN Women UK to make sure every incident of harassment counts for the wider change needed.