Harrogate Feminists

Street Harassment Survey
November 28, 2010, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

We are conducting a survey as part of the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence. We would like to find out what people’s experience is locally, in Harrogate especially; any experience of shouted remarks, insults, innuendo, whistling, ogling, touching, pinching, slapping, hitting and stalking in a public space that made you feel sexualized, intimidated, embarrassed, violated, attacked, or unsafe.

This survey is anonymous and you do not have to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable.  We will use the findings to raise awareness about what public spaces are like for people locally.

Click here to take the survey.

Thank you in advance for taking part in this survey.  Results will be on our website from February 2011.


Meeting tonight!
November 22, 2010, 10:21 am
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Just to remind everyone that we’re meeting tonight – lots to discuss!

Fantastic result!

The HBC Licencing Committee tonight voted to adopt the new SEV legislation!

What’s more, at the suggestion of Councillor Hawkins, they voted to amend their draft policy to specifically state that one of the licensing objectives is the protection of vulnerable women.

Thanks to all who contributed their views during the consultation period – together we really made a difference!

What sort of tourism does HBC wish to promote?

The consultation period on SEV licencing has officially closed, but we heard that you could submit questions up to 2 days before the date of the meeting – so here is the text of an email we sent them on Tuesday. It was a bit more rushed than our original letter for the formal consultation, but we hope it might have some effect…

Dear Harrogate Borough Council Licencing Committee,
With regards to the sexual entertainment venue (SEV) licensing consultation, we wished to draw the attention of the Committee to the policy currently being proposed by Hackney Council, which is amongst a handful of councils proposing a “nil” policy on SEVs licensing. They have produced a leaflet explaining why they feel this policy would be appropriate to their particular borough. One of their reasons is the concerns of Hackney Council about the pressures on its young people “to engage in behaviour that might make them vulnerable to others”, and the potential role of SEVs in adding to these pressures. We feel that the indirect effects of SEVs on young people are under-recognised and this is because the focus of the debate has been largely on the women who work there, which is a rather narrow view of the problem. The presence of SEVs affects the whole town.
Harrogate has a long and proud history of tourism, which is a vital part of the local economy. Now, however, it seems also to be becoming something of a mecca for sex tourism. A Google search of the words “harrogate lap dancing”, which I performed today, identified a posting on a car enthusiasts’ forum entitled “York Stag Do” dating from last summer (http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?t=721166). The original poster, who is due to go on a stag night in York, enquires “whether there are any decent lapdancing clubs in York”, followed by a lip-licking emoticon. Of the replies, there are two separate suggestions that the stag party should take the train over to Harrogate, purely on the basis of what Harrogate has to offer in the way of SEVs. As a woman I would not have liked to share a train carriage with that stag party discussing their experiences on the way back to York.
While there is no suggestion that the poster in this example is himself a sex tourist, it does illustrate that Harrogate is beginning to get a name for itself in certain circles that tends to attract stag parties from elsewhere. Places that attract stag parties tend to suffer unduly from alcohol-related violence, including sexual violence against women.
For example, it is well-documented that British stag parties have fuelled the sex industry in Central Europe, resulting in the exploitation of many of the most vulnerable women, many of whom are themselves immigrants and unable to exercise free choice in their work (http://womensgrid.freecharity.org.uk/?p=4466). This trend is reflected in the UK; after Maxim named Tenby as one of the world’s best locations for stag weekends, there was a spate of serious sexual assaults and all local police could do was to “warn women to be vigilant” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2117892.stm. “Vigilance” on the part of women, of course, will do nothing to prevent this, because sexual harrassment and violence against women is not actually the victims’ fault.
Is this the sort of tourism Harrogate Borough Council now wishes to promote? How will this affect girls and women who live in and around Harrogate and have no choice as to whether to walk past these venues, or whether they happen to attract the attention of stag parties on the street or in bars?
If Harrogate decides not to follow the example of Hackney to propose a “nil policy” on SEVs, we would ask why it would put the commercial interests of the sex industry above the well-being of local girls and women.
In short, we would ask the Licensing Committee of Harrogate Borough Council to look carefully at the image of Harrogate it wishes to promote and the type of tourism it welcomes.

Quick notes from Monday’s meeting

We had a really good meeting on Monday with lively discussion and lots of planning!

SEV legislation

Harrogate Borough Council Licensing Committee is going to hold a public meeting at the council offices at 5.30pm on 11th November, to discuss whether they will adopt the proposed SEV legislation locally. Incidentally, while writing this post tonight I saw that in their report they did note our suggested improvements to their draft policy, although they haven’t summarised the detailed arguments we’d produced in support of our suggestions. One of the lap-dancing clubs submitted their own response via their lawyers. All other responses the Licensing Committee received during the consultation period were in favour of adopting the new legislation, which is great news. Let’s hope they do decide to adopt it!

16 Days of Activism

We are supporting the following events during this year’s 16 Days of Activism:

  • Harrogate Soroptimists’ End Violence Against Women stall on Sat 27th November in Victoria Shopping centre (first floor, opposite Mothercare).
  • Leeds Reclaim the Night march on Saturday 4th December.
  • DoH communications campaign on Violence against Women and Children – aimed both at members of the public and at those working in healthcare.

International Women’s Day 2011

In 2011, we would like to hold our own event, A Celebration of Women, to mark International Women’s Day (8th March) in its centenary year – to take place in Harrogate, probably either on the Saturday before or the Saturday after. We’re working on the details! For interest, see here for events organised by other UK groups in previous years…

Also, we reckon we need to have a constitution and a bank account, as currently we have No Funds Whatsoever, which is a bit inconvenient when planning an event… so we are going to get this sorted soon.

Next meeting – 22nd November – see “Meetings” for more details.

Meet up Monday 8th Nov, 7.30 – 9.30pm
November 1, 2010, 8:42 pm
Filed under: meet-ups

We are meeting next Monday at ‘the place’ Crown Hotel.  We will discuss holding a ‘celebration of women’ event for International Women’s Day 2011.  New members are very welcome, send us an email if you’d like to come along.