Tag Archives: violence against women

Sarah Everard – a time for women to speak and men to listen

The tragic murder of Sarah Everard has shocked the nation. Over the last week the national conversation has been consumed by the horror of the events and an outpouring of grief for a young woman who was simply walking home. But Sarah’s murder has also led to a national reflection on what this means more widely for us as a society.

In the last 10 years 1,425 women have been murdered in the UK, that’s roughly one every three days. I believe Sarah’s death could prove to be a seminal moment in our country as we look to challenge the plague …

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Policing by consent in question after Clapham Common, police report and government bill on crime and justice

The scenes on Clapham Common last night as the police broke up the vigil for Sarah Everard were a disgrace and undermine the fundamental principle of policing by consent. Leading Lib Dems have called on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign. It was not a protest. It was a statement of solidarity with a woman who had been abducted from the streets of London and murdered. It was a declaration that women should be safe on the streets. Lib Dem Voice editor Caron Lindsay told of her personal experiences yesterday.

The UK’s tradition of policing by consent is being replaced by policing by authority. Legislation now in parliament looks set to reinforce authority at the expense of the fundamental right of freedom to protest.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

Not all men

One of the things that struck me the most about the response surrounding the case of Sarah Everard was that on Twitter the phrase “not all men” has been trending alongside her name. It has become a common pattern that as soon as women talk about their experiences that they are met with some form of reply such as “but not all men are like this” and “men can be victims as well”.

While both statements are true, it ignores the fundamental point that abuse happens when someone in a position of power takes advantage of their own power at the expense of the victim. So, although there are male victims (which for the record whose cases should be taken very seriously) and while not every single man is a predator, there is an overwhelming pattern of men being perpetrators and women being victims. This is because in society, men still hold most of the power; whether that be in upper body strength (which on average overpowers a woman’s) or much more crucially in the societal privilege that men have held over women for centuries.

This leads to the fact that 97% of women between the ages of 18-24 (according to a study reported by the Guardian) have reported experiencing sexual harassment. Herein, my problem with the “not all men” sentiment lies. If not all men are predatory, then why have  (virtually) all women experienced predatory behaviour? This is a conundrum. 

Speaking from personal experience, I was fifteen and in school uniform when I was first felt up by a man sitting next to me on public transport and younger than that when I was first catcalled. Those were not the last times such incidents have happened and as a twenty-year old I have now lost count. These experiences are far from unique, they are (a relatively mild) reality of a woman’s experience. It is these accumulated experiences that make every woman consider their personal safety most times they leave their home. Sarah Everard would have made these same considerations. 

When I first heard about Sarah, it felt like I had swallowed a very bitter pill. Immediately it was because of how heartbroken I was for Sarah and her loved ones, but the aftertaste was the reality that that could have been me (or any woman). I myself grew up in South London not far from where Sarah was, and have friends that live in that area. It is considered pretty safe. So, then she was walking in a pretty safe area on main roads,  before 10pm, wearing bright colours, on the phone to her boyfriend. Yet Sarah Everard was still was not safe. 

If women get taxis, they have creepy – and sometimes worse – encounters with taxi drivers. If women take a walk in broad daylight, they are assaulted. If women have the audacity to go to work, they are still assaulted. Despite everything we do, as women by default, our safety is always in question. That is without throwing in other factors such as class (which means that women have to face this behaviour in less safe areas and are more likely to work later hours) or race (which exposes them to the chance of hate crimes therefore increasing risk of attack). 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 40 Comments

Domestic violence in Wales

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence in the home has increased during Covid 19; contact during the lockdown period to Wales’ national helpline for women rose by 49% and call time trebled. During the national lockdown period, data from Counting Dead Women – a project that recalls the killing of women by men identified thirty-five murders with another twelve strongly suspected cases between March 23rd and the start of July.

Statistics in 2019 show that one in three women aged 16–59 will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime and that two women …

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Rape victims should not have to hand over phones to get justice

Yesterday’s news that victims of rape and sexual assault in England and Wales are among those who could be required to hand over their phones for scrutiny as a precondition for getting justice is a very worrying development.

It is hardly going to encourage people to come forward if they have to allow Police to trawl through their entire public and private social media and many will fear that material which is entirely unrelated to the offence could be used in evidence. You also need to take into consideration that messages sent could be used to imply consent that simply was not there at the time the offence was committed.

Victims fear that giving defence lawyers access to their data will simply mean that they will face the sort of character assassinations in court that women who dared to wear short skirts in public used to get.

There is nothing about a person’s clothing or behaviour that ever justifies rape. End of.

What has been interesting is that many of the usual media suspects have published articles opposing this policy.

An anonymous writer int he Guardian describe her experience.

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#TimesUp – victims of domestic violence need safe places to go!

Yesterday’s #TimesUp campaign to stand up against the abuse and harassment of women built on the awareness-raising of #MeToo. Women’s Aid, in joining organisations around the world for #TimesUp, said

“A culture that enables abuse, control and violence is thriving without challenge…..our first response to countless survivors is that she is not alone and she is not to blame. Control, abuse or violence towards an individual is never acceptable. Spotting the patterns and making individuals and agencies accountable for their actions is essential if more people are to come out

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Yet another headline writer trivialises violence against women

I’m very conscious of the way the media trivialises men’s violence against women. Often a false narrative is constructed to somehow give the impression that the abuser had some sort of excuse for their behaviour.

A story in today’s Metro, or more specifically its headline is a good example of terrible practice.

Let’s look at what the man in question actually did to his girlfriend:

Anwaar was open to fits of rage. In one incident she fell unconscious when he throttled her after smashing up her iPhone, slapping and kicking her.

He also attacked her in front of her sons and on two or three occasions slapped her around the back of the head.

Prosecutor Nicola Quinney said Anwaar had held a knife to Miss Doherty’s throat, asking her if she wanted him to kill her, and saying he wasn’t scared of a life sentence. During the attack, Miss Doherty’s son Ethan, three, was hiding under the bed.

So that’s a pretty serious series of violent incidents that fully deserved a decent jail term.

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Liam McArthur highlights Swinson’s and Featherstone’s work and supports ambition action on violence against women

Last week the Scottish Parliament debated violence against women during the 16 days of action between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and International Human Rights day. Liam McArthur led for the Liberal Democrats. He noted that in the ninety minutes of the debate, 9 women would face violence at the hands of their partners.

It was a sensible, consensual debate which you can read here.  Liam’s speech in full is published below:

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