Dates—or really, just being in public—can sometimes be dicey for women. As women, we’re told to keep ourselves safe. If that means buying tasers or pepper spray, letting at least three people know where our location at all times, not traveling at night and being constantly hypervigilant like deer, we’re constantly tasked with our own safety. But one UK city council wants to help women in that eternal quest for safety.
Lincolnshire City Council created a code word for bars and restaurants they believe will aid women in strange situations. The code word? Ask the staff for Angela. Once told the code word, the staff are then instructed to step in and diffuse the situation, ensuring the person's safety and perhaps even calling the person a cab. One woman saw the poster in a bathroom and tweeted it on October 18th.The poster reads, "Hi, I'm Angela. Are you on a date that isn't working out? Do you feel like you're not in a safe situation? Is your Tinder date or Plenty of Fish date not who they said they were on their profile? Does it all feel a bit weird?" It continues on, "If you go to the bar and ask for Angela, the bar staff will know you need help getting out of your situation and will call you a taxi or help you out discreetly—without too much fuss." The tweet has since gone viral with over 28,000 retweets and many responses from women wanting the service in their town and city.
i saw this in a toilet and thought it was important and should be a thing everywhere not just lincolnshire !!!! pic.twitter.com/oO45I7gaJL
— IZ (@iizzzzzi) October 18, 2016
"Ask For Angela" is a part of Lincolnshire’s larger #NoMore campaign. It launched in conjunction with Lincoln's PubWatch, an effort to make pubs safer for guests. The initiative is meant to create awareness around sexual assault and abuse. Hayley Child, Substance Misuse and Sexual Violence & Abuse Strategy Coordinator for Lincolnshire County Council, spoke with The Independent about the campaign. "The 'Ask for Angela' posters are part of our wider #NoMore campaign which aims to promote a culture change in relation to sexual violence and abuse, promote services in Lincolnshire and empower victims to make a decision on whether to report incidents," she said. Child also told The Independent that Ask For Angela has received an overwhelmingly positive response.
As a city, Lincolnshire has a very high rate of convictions for sexual offenses; it comes in higher than the national average for the United Kingdom. Cases against sexual offenses have a 90 percent conviction rate while England has a 77 percent conviction rate.
Kudos to Lincolnshire for trying to transform the conversation around sexual assault. While there are no statistics yet on how effective the initiative has been, we can already think of so many situations we—and women we know—would have appreciated being able to call on Angela.