Bars and restaurants are where some can relax and unwind, but some Victoria city councillors say sexualized violence in those watering holes are a major problem that needs to be addressed.
“This is just one step in creating a safer and more inclusive community where our residents can live, work and enjoy nightlife free from sexualized violence,” said Victoria Coun. Laurel Collins, who brought forward the motion with fellow councillors Jeremy Loveday and Sarah Potts.
Victoria council is considering putting in place sexualized violence prevention training and plans for local bars and restaurants.
And local advocates say that would be a step in the right direction.
“I just think that in terms of this industry, a lot of places have gendered dress codes,” said Eric Nordal with the Retail Action Network.
“You know, in some ways are actually promoting [sexual violence] through their advertising, workplace practices, and their culture.”
But bar manager Mike Page, says in his 20 years of experience working Victoria’s bar scene, sexualized violence is a rare.
“It doesn’t seem overly prevalent,” said Page.
“And in all honesty, somebody working at City Hall who doesn’t work in bars and restaurants all of a sudden saying this is prevalence and they don’t have experience in the field, maybe is a little shortsighted.”
But experts disagree.
“I think that the idea that sexual violence doesn’t happen in the nightlife scene is incorrect,” said Carissa Ropponen with Victoria’s Sexual Assault Centre.
“There is a connection between drinking establishments and sexualized violence.”
With 75 per cent of woman experiencing sexualized violence in their lifetime, councillors say the correlation is difficult to ignore.
“This is an issue in our community. It is an issue that is amplified when you add alcohol to the mix.”
The provincial body WorkSafe does have regulations on workplace violence, this kind of training should be province-wide.
“Largely this should be a provincial issue, it’s provincial jurisdiction in a lot of ways, so I think the city is stepping up where the province isn’t,” said Nordal.
The city council will consider the motion Thursday.