British Columbia

City of Vancouver launches survey to better understand gender-based, sexualized violence in public

The goal of the online survey is to gauge the scope of the problem and determine what the city can do to reduce violence against women and transgender, two-spirited and gender-diverse people.

Goal is to gauge scope of problem and what city can do to improve safety for women, LGBTQ community

The City of Vancouver wants to hear from women and members of the LGBTQ community who have been harassed or assaulted in public city spaces in an effort to make those spaces safer. (Shutterstock / Media Whalestock)

The City of Vancouver has launched a survey to better understand gender-based harassment and sexual assault in public spaces, in an attempt to reduce violence against women and transgender, two-spirited and gender-diverse people. 

The goal of the survey is to find out where such violence is more likely to occur in Vancouver, what issues need to prioritized, and what the city might be able to do about it. 

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced gender-based or sexualized violence or harassment in Vancouver — examples include unwanted touching, cat-calling, being followed, and homophobic, transphobic and racist harassment — is invited to complete the online survey now. 

"There are so many forms of gender-based and sexual violence that get actually normalized, and especially when they're happening in public space settings or in urban settings," said Sonmin Bong, city social planner and project lead. 

"Data collection is not the end all and be all … but it's definitely one of the steps that we can take to better understand, specifically, what types of public spaces people may be feeling unsafe from."

The plan is to collect public responses until the fall and publish the results in early 2022.

Learn more, then act

According to the city's website, the survey will help develop a clear, in-depth picture of the issues and identify priorities and intervention areas. 

The survey is one of the first steps the city is taking as part of a larger, global initiative led by the United Nations.

The UN Safe Cities initiative aims to address gender-based and sexualized violence and harassment by focusing on city policies, planning, programs and services and how they can be changed and applied to increase safety and build safer public spaces.

Vancouver is one of six Canadian cities participating in the project.

"There is actually really high rates of gender-based and sexual violence and harassment … happening across not only the city of Vancouver, but across so many cities around the world," said Bong. 

"It's not just about also addressing sexual violence for women and girls, but also addressing other forms of gender-based violence for people of all marginalized genders."

You can learn more about the UN Safe Cities initiative and the survey on the City of Vancouver's website.

With files from The Early Edition