Violence against women is not a new issue and just days ago it was reported in the Guardian that 81 women have lost their lives to femicide in just 28 weeks. Though not all these women were killed during the hours of darkness, the cases of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa show us a harrowing reality about women’s safety at night. Violence against women does not discriminate based on class, sexuality, age, or ethnicity, however often the way we view these incidents, and the victims do.
We believe that all women should feel safe at night. The responsibility should not lie solely with women to keep themselves ‘safe’ from the violence of men. Men need to take responsibility for not raping, groping, attacking or stalking women. Men need to challenge their peers when they see or hear inappropriate behaviour from fellow men. In a 2021 study from the European Social Survey, data shows that 32% of UK women surveyed said they don’t feel safe when walking alone at night, one of the highest percentages from the 29 European countries surveyed. Our female team all stated that they never go out at night before planning a safe route home at the end of the night. This disturbs us and motivates us to want to do better. We must do better.
The fall of darkness is an inevitability. Something we can rely on. Each day, the bright hours of daylight begin to dim, and the city transforms into the night. Though the hours on the clock may have changed, the opportunities for activity and enjoyment should not. Night time economies all over the world endeavour to create vibrant and inclusive spaces for everyone, regardless of their needs. If you want to dance into the early hours, you should be able to dance. If you want to see a show with friends, you should see that show with your friends. If you are a worker, you should be able to access transport links and amenities as easily as you would during the day. The night should be a safe and vibrant place for everyone at night, but unfortunately, as recent devastating events have shown, for some it simply isn’t.
Physical violence and femicide is not the only concern for women at night. In 2018, occurrences of drink spiking in the UK had increased by 108% in just three years. Though the spiking of drinks does not exclusively happen to women, they make up 72% of all victims. 10% of this figure consisted of women aged 18 and under.
The prevalence of street harassment and catcalling has also increased. Over 10,000 people shared that they had been harassed in the street with the Instagram page Catcalls of London, and it is estimated by Plan International that 2 in 3 women have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. Further to this, the coronavirus pandemic and the various lockdowns that ensured added another layer to the experience of Women. Having restricted access to public space, emptier streets, fewer bystanders and no access to dedicated safe spaces, the fear of being harassed and experiencing unwanted sexual attention only increased.
So, what can we do about women’s safety at night that goes further than telling them not to wear headphones and let their friends know where they are?
There are lots of fantastic examples currently in place across the UK by both top down and bottom-up organisations. Both the London Night Czar’s office and National Pubwatch have a Women’s Night Safety Charter. Gov.UK have unveiled a Safety of Women at Night Fund. The national movement Reclaim the Night has held demonstrations across the UK and just this week in Newcastle a community organisation, partnered with local Young Women’s project Bright Futures, set up Women’s Street Watch.
Here at NTES, we are as dedicated as we have ever been to improving women’s safety at night. We want to help push this crucial matter forward and help create cities and towns that are safe spaces for all women at night. We have lots of experience as a team dealing with the safety of women on the street, in venues, in the workplace, and on public transport. We have been involved with the setup of the Safe Space Concept across various cities, alongside designed tailored training packages such as Club Crew and working with Nottingham City Centre on making misogyny a hate crime.
We feel so passionate about Women’s Safety at night that we have developed our own Women’s Safety Night Time Charter. These are the things that we are now committed to encouraging in the towns, cities and businesses that we work with:
- Women’s Safety at night will form a core part of any night time economy strategy that we write, we will encourage every area that we work with to adopt their own women’s safety charter.
- When we perform Night Time Audits for towns and cities, we will review the safety of women as an essential element, and provide clear feedback tailored to that area on how to improve women’s safety.
- When we survey towns and cities, either via Esurvey’s or Focus Groups, we will ask women how safe they feel and what can be done to make them feel safer. We will work with the areas we have surveyed to empower them to take action on our findings.
- We have further expanded our extensive vulnerability management services and vulnerability training, to include a more comprehensive training session on Women’s Safety and Anti Drink Spiking Training.
- We are committed to helping those working in and around the hospitality sector to identify and deal with different types of vulnerable people that they may encounter within the night time economy, whether this is in the venues or on the streets. This includes developing policies, training and innovative solutions for Women’s Safety.
- We have developed the first-ever Police Officer Night Time Economy Training, trialled and rolled out in Wiltshire with 1000 officers over 6 sessions. This deals specifically with the safety of women at night. We are now committed to rolling this out across the UK.
- Our grant writing team will work at 10% reduced rates for anyone wanting to write a grant to secure money relating to women’s safety at night.
- Every year we donate 10% of our profits to charity, this year 25% of that 10% will go to women’s safety projects.
We will not stop there. As a team of specialists, we will challenge ourselves to develop new and innovative ways to reduce vulnerabilities across different user groups and specific situations. Going beyond the standard safeguarding training, we want to help all involved to deal with a wide range of specific issues relating to a variety of safety of women at night.
With a concerted effort from all involved in the night time economy and cities after dark, we can help to improve the experience had by women at night and ensure that their safety at night is on the agenda for all. We are responsible for the change we want to see, and are dedicated to working in partnership to achieve this.
For more information on any of the work that we are and have done to improve women’s safety at night, or to find out how we could work with your town, city or business by delivering vulnerability training, women’s safety training or developing specific policies for your business please don’t hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org