The ‘Don’t Cross the Line’ campaign targets perpetrators of misogyny and sexual harassment in clubs and bars after 800,000 women reported experiences of sexual assault in the past year in the UK.
Tower Hamlets Council, in partnership with Hackney Council and the City of London, launched ‘Don’t Cross the Line’, a new six-month-long awareness campaign against misogyny at bars and nightclubs, on 30th November 2023. The campaign aims to ensure that there is visible messaging in areas where sexual harassment is common.
The Councils of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and the City of London all share responsibility for parts of Shoreditch, London’s nightlife hub in the East End. They have launched the campaign in time for the rise in activity in the area over Christmas.
Bars and nightclubs that participate will receive posters to display in their venues, which list unacceptable behaviours, such as groping, grabbing and staring. There will be an accompanying advertising campaign run in the borough. Venues will also receive training delivered by the Metropolitan Police.
The Councils considered an awareness campaign to be necessary after a survey of 200 young men living in Hackney found that young men did not know what behaviours were unacceptable in a bar or club. An ONS report showed that 800,000 women had experienced sexual assault in the past year ending March 2022 in the UK.
‘The streets of London are simply not safe for women and girls,’ said Tower Hamlets resident Clare Szaroleta. ‘Although it’s great to see this campaign taking action on this important issue, it must be just one small part of a bigger effort to tackle the disgusting misogyny and harassment women face on a daily basis.’
‘Don’t Cross the Line’ focuses solely on the perpetrators of sexual violence, rather than the victims. ‘The only person responsible for sexual harassment or assault is the person choosing to harass others,’ notes the campaign material.
Research by Internet Matters, an online safety group, found that misogynistic online content was targeting young men and boys. There is widespread concern that influencers such as Andrew Tate have contributed to a rise in misogyny and sexual violence on nights out since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fawcett Society East London, a grassroots group campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights, welcomed the campaign. ‘The campaign rightly points out that the night-time economy makes a valuable contribution to the overall community and it’s only fair that women get to participate in that too, whether they’re working or having fun,’ said a spokesperson for the group.
Tower Hamlets’ Executive Mayor, Lutfur Rahman said ‘Partnering with our neighbouring boroughs, Hackney, and the City of London, we’re calling out any abuse and harassment and making clear it will not be tolerated.’
Tower Hamlets Council has also recently introduced a new licensing policy which makes venues responsible for taking a zero-tolerance approach to misogyny and sexual harassment.
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