Train bar workers to prevent sexualized violence: councillors

Bar and nightclub workers should be required to take sexualized-violence-prevention training, say some Victoria city councillors.

“We as a community and as a city have a responsibility to make sure that residents can go to work or enjoy an evening out without sexualized violence or without the fear of sexualized violence,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday.

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In what the three say is critical to creating a safer nightlife scene in the city, Loveday, along with councillors Laurel Collins and Sarah Potts, are proposing that:

• Staff report back on implications and options for mandating sexualized-violence-prevention training for bar and nightclub staff as part of the liquor licence or business licence approval process.

• Liquor licence applicants submit a sexual-harassment and sexual-violence-prevention plan alongside their liquor-licence applications.

• Council includes sexualized-violence prevention in the mandate of the city’s municipal liquor policy, now under development, and in its late-night program.

Victoria councillors’ strategic plan includes exploring ways to end sexual harassment and assault in the city, including creating a safe-nightlife campaign for Victoria venues, bars, clubs and festivals.

This year, a sexual-assault-prevention workshop was conducted for bar and restaurant operators. Victoria police and taxi stand operators also attended.

Attendees supported a number of follow-up initiatives, including venue audits, a common code of conduct and a trial of a late night street-patrol team, according to a late-night program update.

“Training could offer everything from allowing workers to recognize sexualized violence when it’s occurring in their workplace, knowing how to react and respond when they see it, and knowing how they can prevent it and knowing how they can prevent it among the ranks of their staff as well as their patrons,” Loveday said.

The councillors note that the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre says sexualized violence encompasses all forms of unwanted sexual contact.

It’s described as “any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality.”

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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