UN forum aims to make Edmonton public spaces safer for women
A United Nations conference is back in Edmonton with the goal to reduce sexual harassment towards women.
In 2016, the city and province carried out a study—Edmonton: Safe City—with the UN to learn more about sexual assault trends in Edmonton.
The data collection revealed the most common harassment women face in public places include unwanted sexual remarks, groping and stalking. The places where it is most likely to happen are to and from home, work and school, public transit, malls, bars and restaurants, and in public spaces in central Edmonton.
The study also revealed that females between 13-25 years of age and minorities—especially Indigenous women—are more likely to be harassed.
“We want to build a city that’s safe for women and girls in all of our public spaces,” Ward 2 Councillor Bev Esslinger said at the UN’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Leaders’ Forum Tuesday. “There’s some work we need to do in the area of public transportation and we also know that our Indigenous women and girls are overrepresented in sexual assaults or harassment, so we have work to do there.”
Women have taken to preventive measures to evade sexual harassment. Celeste Soete works at a bar where she typically finishes around 1:30 a.m., and she has a routine to stay safe.
“No one walks out alone,” she told CTV News. “Everybody gets a walkout, generally from one of the bouncers—especially while the bartenders are finishing up the rest of their cleaning, the closing duties.”
The UN conference wraps up Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre.
With files from Sarah Plowman