Crime rates in Calgary have gone down, here is why women don’t feel safe walking alone at night.
Calgary downtown was considered as one of the safest and most fun places. You want to take a walk down Stephen Ave after dark now? Better carry a pepper spray with you.
This despite the fact that crime rates in Calgary have been on the decline throughout the pandemic. By the end of 2020, violent crime rate had dropped 11 per cent from 2019, although it was six per cent higher than five-year average. Sexual assaults are also at their lowest level in four years reports the Calgary Police Service.
So why don’t Calgary women feel safe walking the city’s streets?
Between late 2020 and now, several high- profile have made women second guess their decision to go out at night alone. One of the most frightening incidents took place on October 8, 2020, when three separate sexual assault cases were reported. The first assault took place in Bow Trail S.W at around 9 a.m. while a woman was jogging. A man yelled at her and sexually touched her. Later that same day around 3 p.m. a different woman was walking in the 900 block of North mount Drive N.W. when she was sexually touched by a strange man from behind and less than three hours later at around 5:50 p.m. a woman walking near 14th Avenue S.W. had a stranger grab her from behind and touch her in a sexual way.
There have also been cases of men stalking women such as the case of Kaylee Nowosiad as talked about by CTV news on Friday, March 26, 2021, where she was walking to her car after completing her shift at a pub around 4 a.m., suddenly she noticed three men walking towards her. Naturally she was terrified but more so because she thought if something were to happen it would be hard for people to hear he scream. Even though Nowosiad was terrified she thought fast and grabbed a pen from her bag and had her keys ready in her other hand. She was able to run and drive away before something horrible happened.
She ran to her car with car keys in one hand and a pen — potential self-defense weapons — in the other.
While she made it to safety without a confrontation, not everyone is as lucky.
“I was just walking through 11th Ave in downtown in February and these two guys who were just standing on the side of the road and asked me what took me so long and when I kept walking one of them grabbed my grocery bag and pulled it, it was horrifying,” said Alexis Hallman.
Hallman, 19, lives downtown with her boyfriend and usually has closing shifts at her work.
Hallman said she had no idea who these men were. She suspects that they were intoxicated as they could not walk straight, which was why she managed to just leave her bag there and run towards her house.
As Hallman and Nowosiad’s experiences illustrate, falling crime rates do not tell the whole story.
In January, Calgary police were searching for a suspect they believed responsible for at least 15 groping attacks on women since November 2020. In each of these cases the women were walking alone when a strange man grabbed them in an inappropriate manner.
“It is heartbreaking that the people in Calgary are hurting each other rather than coming together during such difficult time,” said Brittany Moore, a police officer at Tsuut’ina National Police Station.
“I was working with a women’s shelter regarding some issues and I got a chance to look at their helpline call logs,” said Moore. “In the last year they got nearly 10,000 calls,”
According to Moore, even though domestic violence cases have gone down, police officers like her see way too many incidents to not be concerned.
“People are more frustrated now than they ever have been, although that is no excuse for them to start hurting others but I feel it is what is motivating them,” said Tamara Bos.
Bos is a psychology student at the University of Calgary and has personally experienced physical as well as mental abuse in these last two years.
After her father lost his job a few months after the pandemic started, says Bos, he began to be verbally abusive towards Bos’s mother and herself.
“We had to be very careful around him because we did not know what would make him angry,” said Bos.
It was a heartbreaking time for Bos and her mother as they had never seen him like that. To Bos, he was a loving father and to her mother a hard-working and caring husband.