The Southall women said they were afraid to go out alone at night for fear of being harassed in the street. They said ‘most women’ did not feel safe in the City of London after dark and wanted the police to take action and help them feel reassured, especially when walking nearby groups of men.
Mother-of-three Yasmin, 35, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that she felt most unsafe when she went out after dark: scared.
“Especially when I am with my children. I know the police are doing their best, but more could be done to help us feel safer.
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One woman, who did not wish to be named, agreed and said: ‘Most women don’t feel safe at Southall – that’s definitely a problem. They are afraid that men will approach them or say unpleasant things.
Teaching assistant Meena, 19, agreed and said: “It’s really dangerous here. But not just for women. I work with children and where I work is right next to the park. There are big bullying issues there.
However, not all of the women who lived in Southall had bad experiences in the neighborhood. Sonam Sharma recently moved to Southall. She said: “I’ve only lived in the area for three months, but coming home at 12 noon, 1am, I felt completely safe here. Maybe it’s because I’m in my own community, the Punjabi community, but I haven’t had any bad experiences.
It comes after a number of convenience stores in Southall allegedly sold alcohol to groups of men who then harassed women on the streets. Inspections by Ealing Council and the Metropolitan Police found six off-licensees in Southall were encouraging street drinking by selling alcohol to groups of men ‘prolonging’ on the street .
The groups were accused of being ‘noisy’ and ‘disruptive’, harassing women and making them feel unsafe. The investigation by the council’s trading standards team and the police came after reports of groups of street drinkers harassing lone women.
Sukhpreet Khur suggested a curfew on drinking in the streets could be put in place and said: “They shouldn’t be allowed to sell alcohol to these people. After a while you should no longer be allowed to drink outside and should only be allowed to drink in pubs or clubs.
During their investigation, the council and police found illegal tobacco and alcohol, as well as unregulated prescription drugs, on some of the premises. Following the council’s inspection, two convenience stores will have their liquor licenses reviewed for allegedly failing to comply with public safety obligations.
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Ealing Councilor Aysha Raza, Cabinet Member for Addressing Inequalities, said: “Women and girls deserve to feel safe in our public spaces at all times. In the UK, 97% of women aged 18-24 said they had been harassed in public.
“This is not acceptable and together with our partners, including the police and local businesses, we will do everything we can to resolve this important issue.”
The Metropolitan Police have been contacted for comment.
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