Booze and crowds make bars ripe for sexual assault, and a couple of establishments in Toronto's east end have rolled out a clever campaign to prevent incidents while offering an escape route for women on bad dates with creeps.
It works by allowing women to "order a Diana" from a server or bartender if they feel uncomfortable, awkward — or even threatened. The code word discreetly signals that help is needed and bar staff will ensure their safety by calling a taxi or helping them leave without alerting their companion.
Todd Morgan and Marc Baglio, respective owners of Maple Leaf Tavern and Pinkerton's Snack Bar, have come together to raise awareness about the dangers of sexual assault in bars and ensure women's safety on the up-and-coming Gerrard strip.
The poster campaign asks “Are you on a date that isn’t working out? Is your online date not who they said were? Do you feel like you’re in an unsafe situation? Do you just need some help?” If so, the poster suggests, a woman can ask for a “Diana,”the bar's "secret cocktail" — a code that will let bar staff know she would like help to subtly extricate herself from the date. (The campaign poster does not specify that the advice is only for women).
"It's really our responsibility to take care of everyone's safety, and make sure everyone comes in happy and leaves happy," Baglio told Gill Deacon during a radio interview for CBC's Here and Now. "No one should be put in an awkward position or in any danger."
The campaign — a spin on the popular UK-based "Angela" campaign — hopes to remove the fear sometimes faced by people in difficult situations of being wrong, or feeling like they're causing a scene, by signalling staff in a discreet but effective way.
The popularity of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble make meeting someone online sound like a risk-free venture. But those who have done online dating know — the reality is mixed. Some dates are fun, some are meh. And some are downright creepy.
More people might find themselves in difficult situations, and recent events in Toronto have indicated a concerning problem, so it's encouraging to see nighttime businesses in the east end being proactive around personal safety.