Studies show that one in every three women attending university are sexually assaulted during their time at school. Thankfully, a number of bars in Montreal are now putting in place new measures to help curb this sobering statistic.
The ‘Order an Angelot’ campaign was launched this week by the Quebec student group Sans Oui C’est Non (“Without Yes, It’s No”). The group is currently training staff at local bars on how to assist patrons who order a specific fake drink. Called the ‘Angelot’ cocktail, bar patrons who order this fictional drink will alert the staff that they’re in distress and need help.
There are three versions of the Angelot, and the kind ordered will indicate to bar staff how to respond. An Angelot with ice means the customer wants to leave immediately, and would like the bar to order them a cab. An Angelot without ice means the customer needs to be taken to a safe space. An Angelot with lime indicates that the customer has been assaulted and needs the bar staff to call the police.
Marie Gauthier, a member of Sans Qui C’est Non, said that making local bar owners and staff aware of the issue of sexual assault on and off campus is imperative to the program’s success. “It’s an active bystanders training,” said Gauthier. “So we’re trying to help the staff become more aware of all the sexual violence we have in bars.”
As the co-owner of Resto Bar La Maisonnee, Stephanie Juteau explained that her staff have been trained and are ready to assist customers should they order an Angelot. “If the girl just says the word, she doesn’t need to give an explanation,” she said. “We know that we’re going to help her because she’s saying this word.”
Sans Qui C’est Non has teamed up with the ASEQ, the Quebec student health alliance, on the campaign. Both groups are working to educate the staff of 40 to 50 bars on and off campus in Montreal about the Order an Angelot campaign, as well as hanging posters in bar bathrooms to explain the campaign to patrons.
Similar programs have been put into place in the U.K. with the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign and the U.S.’ ‘Order an Angel Shot’ campaign.
There have been critiques of the campaign, including consequences of abusers learning the code word or staff not being properly trained, but as Jennifer Drummond of the Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre points out, providing an ‘out’ for those in dangerous situations is a step in the right direction. “This gives people the option of getting to a safe place, getting help if they need to and that’s a good thing,” said Drummond.
Hopefully the success of Montreal’s safety campaign will spread to campuses and bars across Canada.