City Buzz: Leeds bars must help stamp out sex pest menace

Police in Leeds city centre.
Police in Leeds city centre.
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It’s sad but true that this week’s City Buzz will probably bring a collective sigh from most women who have been out in Leeds’s bars and clubs.

But the fact is that most of us have, at some point, been the target of a dancefloor groper.

Some people react with outrage, some will offer a stern telling off whilst others feel indifference and see it as something that just goes with the territory.

But whatever your take on it, most people would agree that being subjected to the unwanted affections of a drunken letch isn’t something that we should have to tolerate in a modern, cosmopolitan city such as Leeds.

There’s been various efforts to stamp it out over the years by official bodies – some more successful than others – but unfortunately there’s still a significant number of people who, once they get a drink down them, think it’s OK to let their hands wander or worse.

So City Buzz was very encouraged to hear this week that some of the city’s leading bars have signed up to a zero tolerance programme aimed at making the city a grope-free zone.

Bar staff working across the city are currently undergoing training to learn how to deal with reports of and spot the signs of sexual harassment and assault and take the proper action when they do.

The ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ project by Leeds University Union has seen more and more bars signing up to the scheme.

The campaign was originally launched in the wake of the NUS’s shocking Hidden Marks Report, which showed that 68 percent of female students have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault during their time studying.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Express Yourself survey showed the same number of students at the University of Leeds were concerned about their personal safety.

So ever since, the union has been on a mission to tackle the issue.

Mission, Fibre, Viaduct, Tiger Tiger, Hifi and Wire have already experienced the new training and it’s hoped that more top night spots will be getting on board sooner rather than later.

For us punters (this applies to both men and women), this basically it means that if any of us are in these venues and feel uncomfortable with any such behaviour – ranging from inappropriate comments and bum pinching to more serious offences – we can let a member of staff know and the matter will be dealt with seriously and efficiently, with police involvement if it’s deemed necessary.

City Buzz is always keen to shout about the good side of Leeds’s nightlife, but there’s always room for improvement and it’s only right that we also highlight the programmes that are not only shining a light on some of the more negative elements, but also working hard to improve them too.

It’s sad that projects like these have to exist but anything that is being done to help tackle what appears to be a widespread problem is only a good thing.

So if you’re a bar or venue that hasn’t already got involved, City Buzz is throwing down the gauntlet and challenging you to sign up and make your bar a better, safer night out for everyone.

To get involved in the campaign, e-mail or call 0113 380 1328.