London group wants city to join United Nations Women Safe City program

The Community and Protective Services Committee will consider a plan to get London involved in the United Nations Women Safe Cities program.

“A UN safe city is an initiative that started in 2010. Essentially, the municipal government, along with non-governmental organizations, connect with the UN and ask for permission to join the initiative,” said Annelise Trudell, manager of education at ANOVA.

The initiative seeks to reduce sexual violence and harassment in public spaces.

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ANOVA, a group with more than 40 years of experience counselling sexual assault survivors first approached Mayor Matt Brown’s office with the idea of joining the UN Women Safe Cities initiative this past spring.

Trudell says after gathering more information about sexual assault in London, they knew they had to act.

“We had survivors come to us at the sexual assault centre saying they had experienced sexual assault on our city buses. There were a few stories that were common enough for us to decide to put out a survey to get the bigger picture,” said Trudell.

She says we don’t often talk about sexual assault statistics.

“One in three Canadian women over the course of their life will experience sexual assault. That rate is highest for 15-year-old girls. When we deconstruct that, a half of LGBTQ folk will experience sexual assault, 82 per cent of women with disabilities will experience sexual assault, we can even look at the racialization component,” said Trudell.

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A motion going before the committee Tuesday asks councillors to make ANOVA the lead organization in developing a five-year safe cities plan for London.

It also asks for ANOVA to create a steering committee of experts that will report back within a year with a list of recommendations to work toward obtaining a UN Safe Cities designation.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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