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Business creates safe space in response to woman followed in downtown Vancouver

The coffee shop offers a way for women to signal they are being followed or are in a potentially dangerous situation
Harken Coffee Safe Space
Harken Coffee is offering a discreet way for women to alert staff they are being followed or are in a potentially dangerous situation.

In response to the story of a Vancouver woman who was followed by a stranger across downtown Vancouver, a coffee shop has announced a way for women to discreetly seek help if they find themselves in a similar situation. 

On March 17 the woman was followed for 40 minutes until she stopped to sit among strangers at the Downtown Skateboard Park. Just under a kilometre away from the park is Harken Coffee, a coffee shop and roastery that recently announced a plan to help keep Vancouver women from going through similar horrifying experiences.

Branded as a “Safe Space”, the business laid out what women who feel they are in a potentially dangerous situation can do and how staff can help them.

“If you are in the area and are being followed or feel unsafe for any reason…

  • You are welcome Into our space and can stay as long as you need to if you need to.
  • If you need to slip out our back entrance just let our staff know
  • We can also notify the police or neighbourhood security if needed 

If the person follows you into our shop...

  • You can discreetly order a nonfat Americano (which doesn't exist) and our staff will know what it means 
  • We will make sure no one bothers you and you can safely wait In our back area until it’s safe if need be 

This also applies to... 

  • Any sex workers in the area who need assistance 
  • If you are in an abusive relationship and are in our shop and need us to call the police for you
  • If you are in our shop on a date And feel uncomfortable or unsafe for any reason”

A post shared by Harken (@harkencoffee)

The business has received many accolades on social media for the initiative with people calling for more businesses to take similar actions.

“I love this hard, and for sex workers, too! Stay classy, harken. And safe, everyone!” writes Reddit user ebunzzle.

“This should be adopted by every cafe,” writes Redditor morelsupporter. “And it's not that hard either,” added Jungledesertxx.

Others suggested businesses should learn from the B.C.-based non-profit Good Night Out Vancouver which offers workshops on sexual violence prevention for restaurants, bars, pubs, festivals, art spaces and more. 

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