On International Human Rights Day, December 10th, a tea party took place at the Mayor’s Parlour, City Hall, Sligo.
The funds raised were for the Ask For Angela initiative in partnership with Sligo Rape Crisis Centre. The wonderfully talented Cathy Jordan was there to provide music and song.
So what is Ask for Angela?
#MeToo, #TimesUp, #ibelieveher
Campaigns such as these have raised awareness of the pervasive nature of sexual violence in Ireland. They have also provided the catalyst for change in the form of consent workshops and sexual violence prevention programmes. However, sexual violence continues to be embedded in our social environments. Why? Silence, shame, normalisation.
Night-time culture can pose a particular problem. Alcohol and substance misuse are factors. However, the larger issue is the hidden nature of sexual harassment and assault in bars and nightclubs. Unwelcome comments and touching are becoming more commonplace, especially for women and girls (including transgender and non-binary individuals), whether as staff of night-time venues or as clientele. This behaviour is often viewed as acceptable and regularly gets passively or aggressively ‘laughed off’ if challenged. And it is difficult to challenge such behaviour.
Those who experience unwelcome comments or touching tend to feel embarrassment and anger or fear; they do not want to ‘make a fuss’. Often, they are not aware that this behaviour constitutes sexual harassment and/or assault. However, this behaviour is a violation of one’s rights and is always unacceptable.
So, what can you do about it? What if you could Ask for Angela for backup? This initiative provides anyone socialising in a participating night-time venue who feels uncomfortable or at risk a discrete means of seeking help from a trained staff member. You simply go to a member of staff and ask if Angela is working. You will then be taken to a safe and private place in the venue, where you will be assisted.
The Ask for Angela initiative will be rolled out in night-time venues across Sligo in the new year. Every person is entitled to enjoy a night out free from unwelcome comments and behaviours.