April 1st, 2021
Statement on Street Harassment and Gender Based Violence from Ward 4 Candidate Angela McIntyre:
In response to recent troubling media reports and social media posts about a growing trend of aggressive harassment and stalking behaviour against women, I am calling for action. Our City and entire community must fight back against gender based violence and harassment.
Our government is failing to protect women and other marginalized genders. As a woman with three daughters and four sisters, I have lived experience of these very issues. Women and other marginalized genders deserve to feel safe in the streets.
One recent example involves my daughter who experienced seven separate incidents of cat calling or harassment in one day while travelling from our Charleswood neighbourhood to downtown Calgary. One man even followed her.
Councillor Druh Farrell’s motion on street harassment is a great start, but we need a three pronged approach to fight back against gender based violence and harassment.
Holding harassers accountable begins by lowering and removing barriers to reporting bad behaviour. In addition to the work already underway at the City to address this growing issue, Calgary needs additional tools and systems to track and report street harassment. I applaud Calgary Transit’s recent adoption of a discrete text messaging service to report immediate safety and security concerns on buses, trains and in transit areas by texting 74100. In conjunction with our first responders, it’s time for us to determine how best to expand this type of service beyond our public transit system to all public spaces, whether through adopting those capabilities as a City or by partnering with other organizations.
The City has an important leadership role to play in establishing the norms and community standards we must all abide by. We must establish a zero tolerance approach to street harassment. The City should create an awareness campaign of the zero tolerance policy, encourage and promote effective bystander intervention strategies for the general public, and educate people on the definition of gender based violence. Where possible, the City should explore mandating bystander intervention training through the business licenses issued for certain industries like: taxis and transportation network companies like Uber, hotel concierges, nightclub bouncers, bartenders, and private security guards.
Women and other marginalized genders know where and why they don’t feel safe. We must expand the scope of the Gender Based Analysis to include the City’s role in placemaking and development. This would include:
Evaluating existing public spaces for safety concerns and identifying spaces that need to be improved. This process should draw on existing assets like the Safety Audit Tool created in Toronto.
Consulting on new large scale projects in terms of safety for women and other marginalized genders.
A city where our daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends feel safe is a human right that can no longer be ignored. Making places safer for all half our population is critical to ensuring we all can get back to work, to school, and to fully supporting Calgary’s incredible small businesses.
I’m running for City Council in Ward 4 to lead on important issues like this one. By harnessing innovations we can make our communities a safer, more equitable and more prosperous place for all.