Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Wednesday, 25 November 2015

So How Do We Stop Violence Against Women?

So How Do We Stop Violence Against Women?

The Debrief: We asked charities and got tips on what can be done to make a change…

Today is the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) and what’s highlighted today are these facts:

- Two women a week will die in the UK because of domestic abuse

- One in four women in the UK will be a victim of domestic abuse

- One in five women aged 16-59 has experienced some form of sexual violence

- Up to 70% of women will experience sexual/other violence in their lifetime.

Over on Twitter @CountingWomen, every five minutes, the story of a woman killed in an act of domestic violence in 2015 is detailed. That's 12 women per hour. After seven hours of Tweeting, the account had only reached August.

It’s so dire, and so depressing, especially when you consider violence against women isn’t just comprised of the horrifying and extreme cases of FGM and forced marriage that sadly still happen in the UK. This violence cuts across all strata of society. It’s not like we should aspire to a world where middle-class white women are saved from violence, while working class and ethnic minority and transwomen suffer, but when you consider a third of women at university will be sexually assaulted, it just goes to show that the problem is endemic across our culture. No part of womanhood is safe from this. 

The UN's #HeForShe campaign has done a lot to remind men of their role in gender equality, along the same lines as this brilliant TED Talk on violence against women:

But there are also charities and organisations doing so much to help women. So we asked a variety of these groups what ONE thing needs to be changed in order for violence against women to be eliminated. Like, if they could click their fingers today to change just one thing, what would that one thing be? And for what it’s worth, not one of them said the tax on our tampons should be siphoned into women’s services.

Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism: ‘If I could click my fingers on this day and change one thing I would get the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

‘Ratification would mean the government (which has signed the convention but dragged its feet for years over ratifying it) would have to bring its provisions for things like specialist frontline services for women and girls affected by sexual violence, and equality of representation in the media, into force through domestic policy and legislation.’

Women’s Aid: ‘To make people realise that domestic abuse is not gender-neutral – it is a deeply gendered crime’

Sandra Horley, CEO of Refuge: ‘Sexism is at the root of violence against women and girls. When one sex is given all the power and control, it is inevitable that there will be some that abuse that power, and that’s what we often see with violence against women. If we can create a world without sexism, and generate real equality between the sexes, then maybe we can end violence against women and girls once and for all.’

Safe Lives: ‘Changing the debate from “Why doesn’t she leave?” to “Why doesn’t he stop?” We need to challenge perpetrators and hold them to account.’

Action Aid UK’s Fearless Women campaign: ‘When it comes to ending violence, the key to unlocking change is making sure that women themselves are in the driving seat.’

‘But all around the world women’s rights organisations are strapped for cash and facing a backlash for speaking out, often putting their lives on the line. These individuals and groups need dedicated and reliable funding as well as well as the laws and services to make sure they can work safely.’

Bryony Beynon, co-founder of Hollaback London: ‘STATUTORY SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS EDUCATION IN EVERY SCHOOL FROM KEY STAGE 1.’

‘Every aspect of what we teach young people about equality is patchy and partial currently. Young people also need to educate the adults, the greying masses of men still at the helm of deciding what they are taught. The chairman of the Government select committee on sex education doesn't even know what a clitoris is! We need to stop burying our heads in the sand or worse still, blaming young people when violence occurs, and start building informed consent into the everyday discourse.’

Sarah Green, Acting Director for the End Violence Against Women Coalition: ‘The one single measure we need right now is compulsory sex and relationships education for all children and young people. This would ensure young people get the chance to talk about consent, equality and respect and how people who care about each other do and do not treat each other. It is the best time for preventing abuse in the long term – by challenging the views that makes excuses for it before they set in.’

And there you have it. Feel helpless? Don't!

What you can do to help female victims of violence

1. Donate to all of the above charities/organisations via the links provided

2. Volunteer with the above charities/organisations

3. Lobby your local MP/the Education Minister for compulsory Sex and Relationships education (that's Nicky Morgan!)

4. Lobby your local MP/the Women's Minister for the government to ratify the Istanbul Convenction (that's also Nicky Morgan! Convenient, eh?)

5. Keep aware of sexism and its faults, be aware of who’s at fault when it comes to violence against women.

6. Be a good bystander – read our tips here

You might also be interested in:

Rihanna Finally Explains Why She Took Chris Brown Back

You Need To See These Two Incredible Anti Violence Against Women Campaigns

'How My Perfect Boyfriend Turned My Life Into A Living Nightmare'

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Sexual Assault, Sexism, Rape