The sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women and girls in public spaces occur in all countries of the world, both in rural areas and in cities and, unfortunately, far from diminishing, they continue to increase. Only in the Spanish State, crimes of sexual assault increased on 24.6% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter, according to data recently published by the Ministry of the Interior. Last year 3,223 crimes against sexual freedom and indemnity were recorded in the first months and, in this 2021, the figure has grown to 3,448 cases. By autonomous communities, sexual assaults have increased, especially in Catalonia, the Valencian Community, Ceuta and Castilla-La Mancha. Faced with this reality, it is urgent that state, regional and local governments join forces to provide effective and comprehensive solutions towards the eradication of this violence against women. And this undoubtedly happens by applying policies with a comprehensive and transversal approach, based on prevention and a response to sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in a coordinated, firm and joint way, public administrations and the private sector, so that women can go without fear on public transport, on the street and in leisure and entertainment venues.
With this objective, in Santa Coloma de Gramenet in 2019 we launched the project ‘Violet Network’, with the joint commitment of the public and private sectors to create safe and reference spaces in the city -the violet spaces- to which citizens can address a possible sexual and / or lgtbiphobic assault. We started with about sixty affiliated establishments, most of them nightlife venues, but also gas stations, pharmacies, parking lots and taxi services. From the City Council we provide the necessary tools and resources to those responsible for these establishments, and workers, to be able to prevent sexist and lgtbiphobic violence, and so that they can facilitate the accompaniment of possible victims, activating the action protocol and professional coordination. Therefore, we have systematized responses to attacks that can be produced in the public space in festive and local contexts, unifying criteria and efforts, and coordinating forceful responses that have been shown to be effective in the face of sexual violence.
From the beginning of the ‘Violet Network’ Community participation and involvement have quadrupled and currently the city has 294 Violet Agents, ranging from essential establishments and supermarkets to neighborhood associations and social clubs, restaurants and entertainment venues, among others.
Behind this unique and shared protocol, which is activated in case of need, there is a network of services and professionals coordinated and in contact with the Lila agents, 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. We talk about the police services, health services, the service of night civic agents -Serene and serene-, the service specialized in the care of sexist violence and a team of psychologists on duty, specialized in caring for the victims of this type of aggression. It is, therefore, a joint and protocolized approach that the agents of the ‘Xarxa Violeta’ know and apply. With the slogan ‘If you need us, we are with you’ we have identified each and every one of the establishments and entities that are part of this innovative initiative, in terms of preventing and addressing sexist and lgtbiphobic violence, from a comprehensive, effective perspective and community. And this network continues to be woven, making Santa Coloma a safe city that guarantees women’s rights.