Good news. ''Last Friday, I wrote about women's fear.''

Well, here's an upbeat article. It's Jeani Read's column from today's The
Province. (Any readers in southwestern BC are urged to buy a copy of The
Province to help support Jeani and the other good columnists they have.)

Good news on women's safety

Last Friday, I wrote about women's fear.

I wrote about the appalling but familiar statistics on violence against
women, and of women's fear which often keeps women at home. This makes women's
fear an issue for all of us.

Fearful women stay home when they have a choice, keep their children home,
eat out and shop less, and withdraw the helping roles they traditionally
devote to the community, diminishing the whole community economically as well
as psychologically.

I wrote about a meeting held at the YWCA with Linda MacLeod, author of the
secretary of state-sponsored report The City for Women: No Safe Place -- a
meeting of representatives from about 30 community groups, from Media Watch to
the Vancouver police.

This broad a range of concerned community groups meeting was a first for
Vancouver which, despite having the longest history in Canada of support work,
is also the least co-ordinated in that work.

But that was last week.

This week is for the good news -- some projects that are already under way
in Canada.

@@ A group called METRAC in Toronto, made up of a wide variety of
community groups under the umbrella of the municipal government, has
implemented a number of initiatives, among which are "safety audits" of the
city. These raise awareness of the safety characteristics of an ongoing number
of locations over an extended period of time. By identifying what feels good
or bad about any given area, major improvements can be made that may cost next
to nothing: Could a spotlight be installed to light that dark alleyway?

@@ Toronto's Safe City Committee has passed a bylaw whereby women can park
on the street at night in non-parking zones if they are working late and the
only alternative is underground parking.

@@ In Montreal, community groups have identified areas where violence is
most likely to occur.

@@ In Halifax, police have instituted a twist on "neighbor watch," whereby
the phone numbers of households are grouped together by neighborhood and filed
into police computers, so that they can be notified of property crime in the
neighborhood and advised how to protect themselves.

@@ In Edmonton, 53 neighborhoods have been evaluated on crime levels and a
program instituted to encourage people to leave their porch lights on at
night. Crime escalates dramatically in dark neighborhoods, and the hydro
authority was enlisted to help, estimating that the cost of such a move would
be a mere $1.53 per month per household.

@@ In Thunder Bay, harassment areas for women at the campus were mapped
out, with plans to extend this to the whole community.

@@ In Red Deer, following a rash of crime, a "cabwatch" program has been
started, in which cab drivers are asked to drop in on grocery and convenience
stores -- a strong community-building initiative.

@@ Some communities have started storefront policing programs, and in
other areas mail carriers have been asked to watch households carefully,
making sure mail has been take in.

@@ Avon of Canada has expressed interest in giving its representatives
information about community support groups, to redistribute to their clients
if necessary.

These are just a few, and just the beginning.

Have a happy Thanksgiving [Monday Oct 8th in Canada --tp].


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