Campaign aims to make Vancouver nightlife safer for women

A new Vancouver campaign is partnering with clubs and their staff to ensure safer times for women enjoying the city's nightlife.

Campaign's creators say system to ensure women’s safety desperately needed

Stacey Forrester (left) and Ashtyn Bevan are co-organizers of Good Night Out. (Elaine Chau)

A night out on the town — time for a little fun drinking and dancing. 

But for women, along with the good times can come some awkward, at times awful interactions, involving unwanted touching and other forms of sexual pressure.

Now a new campaign is trying to make nightlife a little safer.

Good Night Out was started by Ashtyn Bevan and Stacey Forrester with the goal of stopping behaviours inside clubs that lead to sexual harassment. In order to do this, Bevan and Forrester audit clubs to see how safe they are for women.

"We're not against flirting and getting to know someone, but we're looking to address when it's unwelcome attention. We don't police, we work with the club staff to know what to look for," said Forrester.

Bevan says bouncers hired by clubs to remedy potentially dangerous situations are often not effective enough to deter inappropriate behaviour.

"[For] bouncers who work at a nightclubs, those issues are just pushed to the side because they're too common. We want to address them.

"We want to work with staff, and people inside the club, to make sure that if someone feels uncomfortable, that they're heard by the bouncer or staff member."

A necessary solution

Sunny Jasper works outside clubs as a street promoter. He says he's all too familiar with the fact that harassment can be a common problem for women who go clubbing, but says both men and women have a part to play to ensure everyone's safety.

"When I see a women being harassed, if I know her I'll go up to her and bring the good vibe to the situation and get her away. But a lot of times when a male is interacting with a women in an aggressive way, if I go up to him and tell him not to do that, chances are I'm going to get punched out."

"A lot of these girls put out a vibe. They try and get a free drink and then the guy expects something after, which is when the problem can happen. Sometimes the girls need to turn it down a little too."

Forrester says it's perceptions like that, that make Good Night Out useful for women who just want to have a safe night out.

"We started this because we heard women being loud and using their voice to say 'this isn't fair, I want to go out and wear a dress, wear heels, buy drinks and dance without dealing with this crappy stuff that comes along with it.

"Women have been speaking up and want this addressed but no one has known how. Then we found Good Night Out and it seems like the perfect tool to address these issues."

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Advocacy group seeking to make Vancouver nightlife safer for women.

With files from Elaine Chau