Women who live in Salt Lake City are regularly concerned about their safety while getting around town according to a new report released today by the city’s Human Rights Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Diversity and Human Rights.
The report is called The Status of Women in Salt Lake City. In it are the perspectives of more than 600 women from across the socio-economic spectrum on challenges they face. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says a woman’s lens of the world is different from that of a man’s.
“And we need to account for that," Becker says. "Not only in our own lives and in the respect that we have for the other gender in our lives, but also in our policies. So this is going to be enormously helpful.”
The report focuses on education, health and safety, social and political and economic issues. Responses indicate the need for improvements especially in general safety. More than 21 percent of women surveyed mentioned safety as a primary concern. The report notes that in 2010, Salt Lake City Police Department recorded 111 reports of rape. But it’s estimated that roughly 1000 additional rapes went unreported that year.
Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission Director Yolanda Francisco-Nez says women suggested ample street lighting would make them feel safer.
“Particularly we have women who have low socio-economic status in west side neighborhoods who are concerned about public transportation in terms of getting from the TRAX station to the buses to their jobs late at night when there is very little street lighting available," Francisco-Nez says.
Last year the Salt Lake City council changed the way the city pays for street lighting by imposing a fee instead of using tax dollars to ensure the city could afford to keep the lights up to standard. Mayor Becker says the city will likely be able to make improvements without raising the cost of street lighting again.
Other recommendations in the report include increasing overtime pay for special victims’ detectives to respond to crimes against women, increase access to gender specific health care, support agencies that promote female entrepreneurs and increase the minimum wage.