Mirjam Wijnja (GroenLinks) and Yaneth Menger (100% Groningen) want harassment to be punishable as a public order offence
We should not regard intimidation of women on the street simply as a “part of life”, say city councillors Mirjam Wijnja and Yaneth Menger. On the contrary: Groningen must do more to stop violence towards women and girls in the city, however it occurs.
The two councilors say that (sexual) intimidation in the street should be dealt with, saying that it is a major and common problem with serious consequences.
Last week the Ukrant published a survey which showed that 86% of the women questioned have experienced harassment on the streets of the city, and that they avoid certain places in the city or groups of men and change their behaviour.
In most cases this involved harassment in parks and entertainment areas, in other words, in public spaces, as reported by the GIC.
“For many women, including myself, being harassed on the street is a kind of fact-of-life,” says Wijnja. “It happens so often that it starts to become part of life. That is unacceptable and that is why we want to know what resources the municipality has to tackle this and thus initiate a single, broad and targeted approach.”
The problem has a long history in Groningen and there are also initiatives to combat it. For example, the Nachtraad and the Instagram account @catcallsofgrunn continuously try to draw attention to the unsafe situations that occur on the street.
However, various measures have been taken in other large cities in the Netherlands, that Groningen could copy to try and combat the harassment. In Amsterdam, intimidation is approached as a disturbance of public order and in Arnhem, extra council enforcement officers are used at locations where a lot of harassment is reported. The parties would like to see similar measures in Groningen.
Menger looks forward to a Groningen without street intimidation. “What street harassment does to you can really have a big impact on you that can affect you for a long time. The vilest things are said to you and sometimes these kind of guys walk with you or follow you.”