'Enough is enough': Ilford councillor urges end to 'harassment culture'

A member of the public walks past the latest mural by Irish artist Emmalene Blake in Dublin's city c

Women and girls are invited to share their views on making Redbridge safer through an online survey and a series of listening events. - Credit: PA

An Ilford councillor is calling for an end to a "harassment culture" and is asking women to come forward and share their stories to make the streets safer. 

Cllr Saima Ahmed (Lab, Ilford Town) is spearheading the council's women's safety listening project, which sprung up after the death of Sarah Everard.

Cllr Ahmed said: "A more common phenomenon and part of womens' and girls' everyday public experience is harassment."

Saima Ahmed, Ilford Town councillor interviewed for Ramadan series

Cllr Saima Ahmed said 'enough is enough' when it comes to harrassment. - Credit: Saima Ahmed

A YouGov survey commissioned by UN Women UK in January 2021 showed four-fifths of young women and more than 70 per cent of all women face sexual harassment on the UK's streets.

Cllr Ahmed added: "This shows we have a very disturbing gender-based harassment culture in public spaces.

"Despite victims sharing unanimously how these experiences have impacted them mentally, this unacceptable behaviour is normalised.

"From a very early age women and girls witness and experience harassment in public spaces and adopt certain strategies to remain safe.

"I have been taught to always plan my journey ahead considering the safest steps, from doubling up to being on the phone, just to avoid danger."

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She said the amount of inappropriate behaviour she's witnessed and been on the receiving end of was "not acceptable."

She added: "Women and girls in Redbridge should be able to walk down the street – whatever time of the day – and not be harassed by men and boys.

"But herein lies a problem. Women and girls think that reporting harassment is a waste of time as it is seen as ‘low-level’ crime and the authorities won’t be able to investigate.

"There is lack of faith in the system and policies where women and girls can be assured about their safety following reporting.

"But here in Redbridge we are drawing a line and saying enough is enough."

She is calling on all women and young girls in the borough to keep the issue of street harassment and safety in public spaces on the forefront and push for change.

To sign up for one of the listening events visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/redbridge-womens-listening-exercise-tickets-152405160939 and you can share your views in the council's online survey