Safe Cities is a worldwide United Nations Women program that draws attention to the sexual violence that women and girls experience in public spaces; whether that occurs in the workplace, at school, at a restaurant or bar, while using public transportation or recreation, or in a park. ANOVA and the Mayor’s Office embarked on undertaking a Safe Cities Initiative in early 2017, gaining unanimous endorsement from London City Council in late 2017. London is the third Canadian city to become part of the UN Safe Cities initiative, with Winnipeg and Edmonton being the other two.
Having undertaken this designation, London committed to the United Nations to the following phases:
- Undertake a scoping study of the incidence (where, what, who, when) of sexual violence and harassment in public spaces in London.
- Use the data that emerges from the scoping study to determine locally relevant actions to prevent and better respond to sexual violence and harassment in public spaces in London.
The following actions were also undertaken in order to reach the previously described phases:
- Development of a mapping tool as a way to map peak times and locations for sexual harassment and sexual aggression.
- Undertaking of 3 to 4 focus groups, in collaboration with community groups and agencies, targeting sub populations who experience higher levels of sexual violence or who may be under-represented in mapping tool data.
In March 2018, City Council allotted $30,700 for the scoping study to take place June to December, 2018. While the collection of data may continue after December 2018, Anova and our partners will be reporting back to Council in 2019 to recommend next steps for the final 3 years of the initiative. Data on who, when, what, and how was collected using CrowdSpot, a mapping website where Londoners could indicate where they felt safe and where they felt less safe in London.
This approach to scoping the issue was intentionally chosen in consultation with our research partners at the Centre for Additions and Mental Health, as we know that the highest incidence rate for sexual violence is for women aged 15-24, the vast majority of whom are highly engaged on social media and through tech.
As of Summer 2019, the data collection phase will be completed and data analysis in underway. A report of the findings and subsequent recommendations will be made public once completed.