Bristol Women’s Commission was founded to deliver on the city’s commitment to the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life.
We want Bristol to be a fair and equal city that does not tolerate violence against women and girls.
Part of this work has been asking Bristol City Council to reconsider its position on licensing SEVs in the city with a nil cap – meaning no licences would be granted. Nil caps already exist in a number of other cities in the UK, including Exeter and Swansea, and in 10 London boroughs.
Bristol – as a city – is committed to the elimination of violence against women and girls. As well as having a Women’s Commission and a Domestic Violence Commission, Bristol, has been awarded White Ribbon status for its commitment to ending violence against women. But we still have some way to go.
The continued licensing of SEVs by Bristol City Council fails to meet our obligations under the Charter, as a White Ribbon City and in line with Bristol Against Violence and Abuse Strategy. It disregards the safety of women and girls and diminishes the status of Bristol as a place where both women and men can lead fulfilled lives in a safe and fair society.
Along with Bristol Women’s Voice, we have highlighted the harm these venues cause – reinforcing gender stereotypes and normalising the objectification of women. Sexual objectification and sexual violence and harassment are consistently associated with each other.
It’s a position echoed by the Mayor, Police Crime Commissioner, local MPs and a number of local women’s charities; also by researchers from both our universities, including the world-renowned University of Bristol’s Centre for Gender and Violence Research.
In recent weeks we’ve seen the opinions of women sex workers pitted against the position of women’s rights advocates. This is not about removing individual women’s rights to earn a living (it’s worth noting that these venues have been closed for almost a year now due to government restrictions), nor is it about making women responsible for men’s behaviour.
Our position focuses on a bigger conversation around changing the behaviours of men and boys in order to make our city a safer, more equal place to live for all women and girls.